This week was... a challenge. I was really anxious under the pressure of being an unworthy vessel for transporting to children the greatest Good News man has ever known. Besides the fact that I don't have a ton of experience as an engaging story teller for children, I was also aware of the fact of the importance that Christ puts on giving the Gospel to the young: "It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin" (Luke 17:2). In fact, today before I went to our last morning of camp, I was reminded of the importance of children to Christ in my Portals of Prayer devotion. It was from Mark 10:13-16. Jesus' words (v.14b -15) are: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." I really zeroed in on the "do not hinder them" portion of the passage. I wonder how often well-intentioned people end up hindering faith when they falsely believe that they are trying to foster it. I just pray that I was under no delusions: when I believed I was bearing witness to Christ that I actually was doing so.
It has been a difficult week in terms of the loneliness factor again. Strange that I have the capacity to feel lonely when I'm so surrounded by people. Tonight, because of the loneliness, I finally went to my "survival kit" of sorts, provided to me by the other new LCMS missionaries. The last night of our orientation, Thursday, June 26, they threw me a going away party complete with DQ ice cream cake and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Many of them also wrote me notes that I was supposed to read here when in need of encouragement. I can't believe that I made it this long before I read them. I'm so glad that I did. Their own words, as well as particularly encouraging verses they included in their notes, made me so happy. One of the girls from the Eurasia team had folded her note into an origami frog and even included a funny joke in her note. One member of the Japan team wrote his notes to me on the back of paper he had used for doodle paper during our classes, and finding his awesome sketch of a mouse and of a gerbil on his words of encouragement made me laugh. That laughter quickly proceeded to tears of thankfulness and praise to the Lord for giving me the encouragement of His Word through His gift of these friends. I can't believe how the Lord has blessed me.
Also through His Word, prayer, and the encouragement of wise people around me, God has caused the difficult anxiety about the approaching school year to dissipate. And how thankful I'm for that! He has brought me here and He will fill my every need with His providence.
How did I spend my time this week when I wasn't with the kids? I've spent a lot of time this week listening to podcasts of my favorite talk radio show, Issues Etc. It is "Christ-centered, Cross-focused Talk Radio" hosted by Todd Wilken, an LCMS pastor. If you haven't ever heard of it, check out their website: www.issuesetc.org. It has been wonderful to keep up with the news in the States and with all kinds of social, political, and religious issues from a solid, Bible-based perspective. I highly recommend it for people who are into real Christianity and podcasting (or listening to the radio online).
-Please pray that God would continue to prepare me (and my students) for the upcoming school year. We go back on Monday the 1st!
-Pray that God would continue to remind me that He is and has provided everything that I need for life, health, and salvation.
-Pray that I would continue to have opportunities to share the Gospel with those around me, bearing witness to the Truth of Christ's once for all sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of the world.