Normal?

I guess things are back to normal.  Or are they?  I think I have decided that there isn’t a normal quite yet.  I cannot believe that we have been here long enough for my parents visit to have come and gone.  We helped them plan their trip when we were in the states, and I remember thinking how far away it seemed.  Well, it has come and it has gone.  Unbelievable.  And I live in Peru.  Also unbelievable.

Before their arrival, Greg mentioned to me that he thought their visit would be exactly what I needed… refreshment.  I cannot explain to you how refreshing it was to have them here.  I now know that it is impossible to catch up on all of the things you would like to do with people you love and haven’t seen for 5 months.  But we made the best of it.  We did some of the tourist stuff, but more than anything we just took it easy and enjoyed each others’ company.  I cannot express the joy I felt seeing my daughter play with her grandparents and wake up in the morning calling for her Pop and Gram.  Yes, we are able to Skype with family (which is such an incredible blessing), but you really don’t realize how much you miss all of the little moments until they are right there in front of you.  They now know what expressions she makes with her face, what things make her tired, the things that make her laugh and giggle…  I could go on and on.  The simplest little things were such a blessing during their visit here, and I will cherish them all the more.

Sacrifice is part of this missionary journey for our family.  I struggle with the fact that I am choosing to sacrifice time away from family and friends that are so dear to me and my family for my children.  They can’t make that decision because I already have.  I come from a background of living in the same town as my grandparents.  The relationship I have with them is priceless.  I want my children to cherish their grandparents like I cherish mine.  That is part of my prayer for their future.  I am blessed beyond measure to have parents and a mother-in-law that will make the trip here to see us and make an extra effort through Skype and other means to have a connection with their grandchildren.  Thank you God.  I can only look to thank You for those things.

So I guess I wanted to post that I haven’t arrived totally at feeling like I am home.  I really had a hard time not imagining myself fitting into my Mom’s suitcase to go “home.”  But the states aren’t really home either.  It isn’t where all of my memories of Ana and Greg remain.  It isn’t where my next baby will be born.  It isn’t where I have set up house and made a daily routine.  Arequipa is where I have done all those things.  It is my home, it just doesn’t quite feel all together like it yet.  And that is okay for me.  I am still transitioning.  I am moving to a new neighborhood in March.  I am starting my language classes again this coming month.  Ana begins her second year of preschool after the summer.  The work is getting launched in the coming months in the area where we are moving.  And lots more visitors are coming… which equal refreshment.  God is good.  He knows what we need and when we need it.  He is patient with us, and he guides us in his way.

I did really well when we dropped Mom and Dad off at the airport.  No tears, which is a really big deal for me especially since I am pregnant with extra tears.  🙂  I did really well until I told Ana to say goodbye to Gram and Pop.  She burst into tears.  She didn’t understand why she was having to say goodbye to her two newest favorite people in Arequipa.  But she did.  Me… I lost it.  That was a little much for me to handle.  And the taxi driver on the way home probably thought that Greg and I were in a fight.  But they were good tears.  I had seen my parents and was filled with joy.  I felt a sense of renewal.  Now when we Skype, they can recognize which couch I am sitting on.  When we move to our new neighborhood, they can envision what the block looks like.  Now when Ana sees them, she can talk about memories she made with them right here in her home city of Arequipa.

The baby will be here in July.  Along with it comes my mom and sister.  I will have to admit that I am just excited to see them as I am to see this new little face growing within me.

Oh, and next week we get to host our people.  We can’t wait to see you Mark and Marlee!  The guinea pig is calling your name.  🙂

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Normal?

I Will Sing

Tonight, my heart is sad.  I have been following the Gaza conflict along with the rest of the world, and it seems so redundant, so inevitable.  But for some reason, with all of the pointless death in the world, these last days of war have weighed upon my mind heavily.  It is so deeply saddening to see God’s Israel resolving her problems in this way.  I feel a great sympathy with Paul’s anguished longing that his blood brothers, who still possess Moses and the Prophets, would seek the Lord.

As I read Psalm 37 tonight, I wondered how many faithful Jews lament the death and destruction that their political leaders are reigning down on enemies and innocents alike.  As it has ever been, these battles are about the land.  The Land.  Israel’s tangible metphor for the blessing and wellbeing granted the faithful.  Christians often turn to the Sermon on the Mount when considering how to deal with enemies–those who would take advantage or harm them.  It strikes me how much of that message is a recapitulation of Psalm 37.  Listen to it again.
Psa. 37:1     Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,
Psa. 37:2     for they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.

Psa. 37:3      Trust in the LORD, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Psa. 37:4     Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psa. 37:5      Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
Psa. 37:6     He will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

Psa. 37:7      Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

Psa. 37:8      Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Psa. 37:9     For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

Psa. 37:10      Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
Psa. 37:11     But the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

Psa. 37:12      The wicked plot against the righteous,
and gnash their teeth at them;
Psa. 37:13     but the LORD laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that their day is coming.

Psa. 37:14      The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to kill those who walk uprightly;
Psa. 37:15     their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Psa. 37:16      Better is a little that the righteous person has
than the abundance of many wicked.
Psa. 37:17     For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

Psa. 37:18      The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will abide forever;
Psa. 37:19     they are not put to shame in evil times,
in the days of famine they have abundance.

Psa. 37:20      But the wicked perish,
and the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

Psa. 37:21      The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,
but the righteous are generous and keep giving;
Psa. 37:22     for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

Psa. 37:23      Our steps are made firm by the LORD,
when he delights in our way;
Psa. 37:24     though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the LORD holds us by the hand.

Psa. 37:25      I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
Psa. 37:26     They are ever giving liberally and lending,
and their children become a blessing.

Psa. 37:27      Depart from evil, and do good;
so you shall abide forever.
Psa. 37:28     For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his faithful ones.

The righteous shall be kept safe forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
Psa. 37:29     The righteous shall inherit the land,
and live in it forever.

Psa. 37:30      The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.
Psa. 37:31     The law of their God is in their hearts;
their steps do not slip.

Psa. 37:32      The wicked watch for the righteous,
and seek to kill them.
Psa. 37:33     The LORD will not abandon them to their power,
or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.

Psa. 37:34      Wait for the LORD, and keep to his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

Psa. 37:35      I have seen the wicked oppressing,
and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
Psa. 37:36     Again I passed by, and they were no more;
though I sought them, they could not be found.

Psa. 37:37      Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
for there is posterity for the peaceable.
Psa. 37:38     But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.

Psa. 37:39      The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
Psa. 37:40     The LORD helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
Many criticize such Psalms for a couple of reasons.  On one hand, they come off as vengeful.  On the other, they are unrealistic about things working out justly.  It’s not true that the righteous always have abundance in famine.  There is undoubtedly a distant horizon in the song, however; a vision of “forever.”  Be sure that the writer lived a life-long struggle with reality vs. hope.  That is the very reason for writing the encouragement.  Trust.  Wait.  Don’t resort to your own vengeance.  Act as though things are different rather than participating in the cylce of brokenness: be a foretaste of grace and justice.
It is all the more moving to realize that Jesus, in taking up the vision of the meek’s inheritance, claims that the long-awaited horizon is merging with the present.  That distant place–land–where God sets things to rights is becoming a reality in the places where Jesus is present.  So it is all the more saddening to know that while his Kingdom is in the process of coming, it is not here yet.  It is we who “keep to his way” that are the tangible sign of what will be, yet in the face of wreckless violence we ourselves need the encouragement.  Trust.  Wait. Do good.
We have heard of the relief workers accidentally killed.  May God look favorably on their service and give comfort to their families.  I am sure, though, that the ones we do not hear about are our brothers and sisters in Gaza keeping to his way and bearing witness with their own blood.  I weep for them and hope in God that they will inherit the land.

A Rich Mullins song called “I Will Sing” seems appropriate.

“I will sing for the meek
For those who pray with their very lives for peace
Though they’re in chains for a higher call
Their mourning will change into laughter when the nations fall

In spirit poor
In mercy rich
They hunger for Your righteousness
Their hearts refined in purity
Lord let me shine for them
Lord let me sing
Lord let me shine for them
Lord let me sing”

I sing Psalm 37 for them.

I Will Sing

Our First Visitors!

I need to jot down my reflections up until now before the 6 month culture shocker takes a hold of me. 🙂 There is no telling what I will do with culture shock, when exactly it hits, or how I will deal with it. I am a planner. If research shows 6 months to be the mark, and I am well after 6 months, I want to claim that all is well with me. That is how I work.

Christmas was hard for me I will admit. Thanksgiving wasn’t so hard because my family wasn’t all together. Christmas, however, was different because all of my family (3 brothers, 1 sister, 2 sister-in-laws, 3 nephews and one on the way, and one neice) were all together with my parents on the farm (that I love so much) for a WHOLE week. Major bummer to me. If you keep up with my blog posts (I post on there a lot more than here) you read my list of 20 items that I missed most about the Bills Family Christmas. My sweet (and humorous) family sent me an email to respond of the 20 things they missed most about the McKinzies not being home for Christmas. I would like to record those here if you don’t mind:

Hey Meg,
We finished opening gifts and of course, missed you and your sweet family. So, we thought we would compose a response to your blog by compiling a list of 20 things we miss most about you all. The list is by no means exhaustive- but it was definitely the highlights for us! So, without further or do . . . here are the 20 things we miss most about the McKinzies this Christmas.
1. Asparagus Roll-ups (oh yeah babe)
2. All of us asking, Wheres Greg?
3. Megs laughter and giggle (Jenni thinks it sounds like a machine gun!)
4. Your video camera (Hey, well be watching this next year when we are in Peru!)
5. Anas deep laugh
6. Gregs bass- Sing it Greg!
7. Gregs coffee- our personal barista (puts hair on our chest)
8. Anas pigtails
9. The thought of Ana blessing our meals- catholic style! (Hail Mary full of grace
10. Megs excitement about the food
11. Jalapenos and Tabasco sauce- Kick it up a notch!
12. Megs tears and blowing her nose (along with the little stack of Kleenex)
13. Wondering if Greg will get a haircut in order to raise more support!
14. Gregs late night construction projects
15. Another playmate for Ruby
16. Megs thoughtfulness
17. Meg and Katys inside jokes
18. Girls night with Anne of Green Gables
19. Meg speaking out Granny style
20. Gregs thoughtful prayers

Okay, so we could have gone on and on . . . but we thought we would spare you the grief. We certainly missed you all. It just wasnt the same. BUT, we look forward to seeing you again soon. Know that family knows no boundaries- no walls- and transcends physical location. You have all been missed and we love you very much. Well save you some boiled custard and coconut cake . . . no wait, Collin just ate the last of it- sorry!

I just love my family!

Christmas was a neat time for us because it was the first Christmas that Greg and I have spent as just our family. Ana is old enough to understand gifts, and we loved waking up Christmas morning to see what Santa left for her. We began our own McKinzie traditions like Shrimp Gumbo for Christmas Eve (coming from Greg’s side of the family) and cinnamon rolls and boiled custard served on Christmas day (part of the Bills family traditions). I missed seeing family but was again reminded of how blessed I am to have my immediate family and teammates here with me.

My post is titled “Our First Visitors” for a reason. On Monday,THIS MONDAY, my parents will arrive in Arequipa to spend about a week and a half with us. I am so excited. It is a surreal feeling to think about them being here in person (not on Skype). It will be a time of catching up and major Ana-grandparent time. I am excited to take my parents to the open market and around to the places that I consider home now. It is my prayer that they will return home with a renewed passion for what God is doing here in Arequipa. We don’t have a home picked out yet, but we plan to walk the neighborhood in the area where we are moving and have a picnic in the park there. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I am thankful to God for my parents’ blessing on this work and their ability to come here and visit. I don’t want to think about how I will react when they leave, but I know that Mark and DIane are coming shortly after. 🙂 Thank you God for your bountiful blessings!

(Pictures and posts regarding my parents’ visit will be posted on my blog.)

Our First Visitors!