It all started with the Taj Mahal…. Agra. Green. Landscaped. Simple (in comparison to Indian flashiness.) Awe-inspiring. Captivating. Yes, truly captivating. From first glance I had one single, inexplicable thought echoing through my mind: This is a little piece of Arabia in India. And, just like they say in Inception, that one little idea grew and grew inside of me. The Middle East…..
In GCBI I started to pray about whether God had given me this crazy burden because He wanted me to work amongst Muslims. As I prayed, I realized that I need solid information in my hands. I can think and dream about something all day long, and end up with a romanticized fairytale nothing like the real thing. I wanted real information about the spiritual climate, struggles and victories of work among Muslims, especially in the Middle East.
So I got some books. I poured over “Through Her Eyes” by Marti Smith, a golden resource written by various missionary women about life and ministry among Muslims as a woman, wife and/or mother. A month ago I started my other book, “Encountering the World of Islam”. Pretty much a text book, its 500+ pages of history, theology, biography and testimony about Islam, Muhammed, and those God has called to share with Muslims around the world. It’s an incredible book, really solid Biblically, and it’s transforming my thinking (mission accomplished.) I’ve been practically inhaling it, reading in every spare moment. One month later and I’m almost done with my text-book!
Yesterday my headache was pretty nasty, so after washing the dishesI decided to take a nap (usually if I can fall asleep, I’ll wake up without pain). Tom and Nutie had already laid down for their daily post-lunch nap, so I locked the door. Miskito people leave their doors wide open, since they spend most of the day outside anyway. As we have a screened-in house, we leave our wooden door open, and the screen door prevents mosquitos from entering in. Locking the door was the silent way of saying “No one’s home”.
A good friend of mine, Zilpa, had said she was going to come over that afternoon, but I didn’t want to see her. I justified locking the door by telling myself that my head really hurt; I didn’t want/think I could try to converse in Spanish with this much pain. But if I was honest with myself, I knew that wasn’t the real reason (or at least the entire reason). I’ve had headaches much worse than that one; I could manage if I wanted to. In reality, I knew it would be easier to hide in my room than stumble through a conversation in Spanish. Simply put, I didn’t want to die to myself. I wanted “easy”.
So I decided to drown out the questions my conscience was putting in my mind through new information. I was in the middle of a chapter about relational evangelism to Muslim women and lost myself in the world of my book. Next thing I knew, Nutie was tapping on my door. “Jessi. Jessi, Zilpa’s here for you.” Instantly I hopped up onto my bed. I knew this was the deciding moment. I had two choices: lie and pretend to be asleep, thereby avoiding the whole encounter. Or, go out and greet my friend. My headache had decreased significantly, so I couldn’t use pain as an excuse to stay in my room.
As the inner debate raged, one thought kept reemerging: How can I say I want to reach out to Muslim women through relationship if I won’t walk-the-talk right now?
So I went out. We played cards and I tried to teach her how to play chess (not recommended for those who don’t speak sufficient Spanish. I don’t think she understood any of it.) And I kept on pressing forward with my Spanish, learning bits and pieces through our interactions.
She left as the sun started to set. As I said good-bye, I recognized how tired I was, my poor brain worn out from chronic pain and hours of immersion-style foreign language learning. But I knew I had made the right choice, and it was a good-kind of tired. Totally worth it.