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Happy Easter!

Fun decorating Easter eggs

I hope you have all had a joyous Easter celebration. I have had a week of both solemn contemplation and Easter fun. My mom sent a box with lots of Easter goodies including stickers, egg dyes, and cupcake fixings. I shared these gifts with several kids in the neighborhood and we had a wonderful time preparing for Easter by making cards, dying eggs, and decorating the cupcakes. On Sunday I attended the Anglican church in town with the Lunds as well as putting on an Easter egg hunt for their kids and having a wonderful roast for Easter dinner, which is a real treat here. Then Rev. Banda and I hit the road in the afternoon as we have a TEEZ training in Chipata this week.

Making Easter cards


In the midst of this Holy Week a dear friend asked me to reflect on my call to this Fellowship and ministry in Zambia to share with a Bible study she leads. I would like to share with you what I wrote to her. In terms of how I was called to this ministry, the opportunity presented itself and I accepted it - just like Belgium, where I was a missionary for two and a half years before seminary. I knew it would be really hard but I also knew it was what God was calling me to do for this season. To be honest there was a part of me that wanted to run away even up to the day I got on the plane to come here (and some days since). I remember sitting at one of the presbytery meetings to approve my ordination and thinking, "Maybe they will say no and I won't have to go." I wish I could say that I was filled with joy and excitement to move to Zambia, but the truth is that I knew there would be lots of challenges. There is a quote from Amy Carmichael who sums it up well when she says, "Missionary life is simply a chance to die." Your normal daily life dies, the way you usually communicate with people dies, even the way the world looks around you dies, and eventually the way you think and see the world dies too. But thankfully our God is a God of resurrection. The old life does indeed die, and that can be a very painful process, but then God provides new life. Sometimes we catch just enough of a glimpse of new life to get through the day and sometimes we are so filled with hope and joy it seems like we might burst. As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this week, we also celebrate our own death and resurrection. Missionary life can just make this dying and being given new life more obvious as it happens in many areas of your life all at once.

I have had resurrection moments here, moments of new life and joy appearing out of seemingly nowhere. Some of these have been quiet moments while driving across the country or taking a walk around the compound where I live when I have felt peace and hope in the midst of such an unfamiliar place. Other times have been during loud, out of tune, but joyous singing and dancing during a church service. One of my favorite examples of this was a boy's brigade band (similar to a marching band) enthusiastically playing "Silent Night" on Christmas eve, accompanied by loud ululations from the congregation. There have also been times during our trainings when conversations with students become holy ground.

The thing is that in this life the dying and receiving new life are all mixed up. We will continue to struggle and experience pain but also receive hope and joy in the midst of it all. Jesus Christ lived among us, walked among us, struggled along side us, died as we all will, and was raised to new life by our Father. Jesus' precious promise to us is that he has gone to prepare a place for us and has invited us to share in his new life. One day we will all be living fully resurrected lives in the presence of our God. Until then we will continue to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and offer thanks for the new life and resurrection moments.


Posted April 9, 2012

Comments

I am delighted to see these photos and so thankful to be blessed through your beautiful life and writing. It is a very humbling and gratifying thing to have my daughter become one of my pastors. Holy ground for me! Thank you for saying yes to God and for sharing your experiences with all of us. I love you always.

Jean Jones on April 9, 2012

<3 <3 <3

Liz Jones on April 9, 2012

You will never be the same!

Sue Wright on April 9, 2012

Rebecca, I loved your reflections on missionary work. Having not done it myself, I can only imagine. Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan Dickey on April 9, 2012

Dear Rebecca, Thanks for your beautiful reflections on your call. What a wonderful reflection for all of us in this Easter season. May you continue to experience the new life during this season and always! Know also that you are bringing this experience to many in ways that you will never fully know. Peace, Molly

Molly Dowell Baum on April 10, 2012

Thank you for sharing your honest, thoughtful reflections, Rebecca. They are beautiful and inspiring. I loved seeing the photos of your sharing your Easter traditions with the kids! Joyous Easter to you!

Beverly Bartlett on April 10, 2012

Christ is risen, Rebecca! He is risen indeed! Or, as one of my non-liturgical Evangelical friends wrote to me yesterday, "Christ is still risen!" Indeed, and your latest blog gets right to that! As I write this the day after your post, you are bounding along in the TEEZ truck with Rev. Banda, or busy organizing the week's teaching schedule, meeting new people, trying to learn names and experiencing another new dimension of life in Zambia. Thank you for this wonderful discription of what it means to respond to Christ's call. It is not only a clear description of what you and others who have gone elsewhere to serve in mission work, it is what disciples everywhere experience in their own "mission fields." It is dying and rising daily, and you have expressed that with a clarity and candor which is both powerful and helpful to us all. Blessings and prayers. fra

Fred Anderson on April 10, 2012

Dear Rebecca - What a wonderful reflection on missionary being simply an opportunity to die - to so much within us. I can't help but think that God is preparing you through this experience for another form of ministry in Jesus' name through which the "you" that is emerging will be a blessing to other folks who are also dying to their old selves. Thanks for sharing your experience with such thoughtfulness. It helps on this end to read it. Cheers.

Don Wahlig on April 17, 2012

Brave and awesome and faithful, the missionary life and that description of it, Rebecca. Thank you.

Mariam on April 21, 2012

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