Our Monday and Thursday Project Meeting
Just a few minutes ago, I read a little book from the apocrypha called "Bel and the Dragon." The gist of it is that Daniel (the same Daniel from the OT) is with Cyrus, the Persian King. Much in the same way Daniel is tested with Nebuchanezer (sp?) to worship other gods, Daniel is entreated to worship Bel (a persian idol/god) and then the dragon. Of course he refuses to do either and is vindicated by God. After refusing to worship the dragon Daniel is thrown into the lions den (again?) and fed by Habbakuk. He is then freed after 7 days while the pagan worshippers are tossed in and devoured by the lions.
What's the point? Why am I bringing this up?
Well, at quite a few times this summer, I (Bart) was at the end of my rope. I am no super-introvert (though I lean that way) but perhaps the most difficult thing about the summer was having absolutely zero time to myself. See, we had, for most of the summer, the only washer and dryer; so even during the times in which we had no project agenda students would come over to do their laundry. Often in pairs. And most often they would want to talk.
At first we loved this. It gave us such a great opportunity to get to know our students better, and really pour our lives into them. It gave us extra time to love on them and just be there for them. But after a few weeks--mind you, a few weeks with a kid going through his terrible twos and a fussy 1 year old because she's out of her comfort zome--we really just needed time alone. I began to miss time with my wife dearly, and I began to miss the extra time with the Lord that our job often affords; so I began to run on empty.
One Thursday the food team was coming over early. Thursdays was my day with the kids. This was at a particular point in the summer in which the kids were just really tired; they had not been napping well and were waking each other up early every morning. So they really, really needed their naps. Well a couple people from the food team decided to ring the doorbell to announce their arrival. This woke up Leah, who proceeded to scream for 15 minutes or so. Finally, I thought, She can get some sleep and maybe I could get a breather as well. Well, as those thoughts entered my head another member of the food team arrived, again ringing the doorbell. This woke Leah up again. She was losing it. This woke Noah up, who came out've his room to see what was the matter. It is not good when two tired kids cannot take good naps--not good at all. Well 30 minutes later Leah is finally asleep, and Noah is back in his room when the last member of the food team came home, again ringing the doorbell. Leah and Noah both woke up again.
I was going to lose it. Not because I was mad at the food team for now knowing better than to ring the doorbell (who would even think of that unless you already have babies?), I was more frustrated that nobody in our family could get a break. I laid Leah down and she fussed and cried for 20 minutes. I sat outside her door and cried. I thought, God is this really why you wanted us to come to Venezuela? Is this really necessary at all?
Like Daniel from Bel and the Dragon we felt tested and strained. I often felt like bowing down and worshipping the gods of this age (comfort, money etc) and that frankly seemed a much better option than following Christ around the world.
Again, just to balance this post, this is a series of 4 (or more) posts about our entire summer. Please don't read this post and think we had a terrible time--the good stuff is coming. One thing we definitely learned from this though, is that following Christ does often involve a cross of sorts. If we were to truly care for Venezuela, and our project, we needed to make some sacrifices. This was one that in hindsight we would gleefully give up again.