Category Archives: Wangki Mairin

Wangki Mairin: Not About Me

Standard

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit… He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their sorrows.” Psalm 34:18, 147:3

If God has taught me one thing here in Waspam these past four months, it’s this: Missions is not about me. He’s done this by daily challenging me to die to myself in every possible way, calling me to step outside the clear boundary lines of my comfort zone out into the midst of those around me.

There’s a reason we call every other nation “foreign countries”; everything in life is different than my United States of America (Alaskan, no less) sense of normal. Different climate, different language(s), different food, different schedule, different relational interactions and expectations, different clothing standards, different governing principles. different health conditions, different worldview. And the list goes on. Countless times these past months I have been sorely tempted to just stay in my room and hide from all the different and difficult. It can be draining to feel out of place and out of touch 24/7. It’s scary, really. All that vulnerability. But, like always, I am given two options: act out of pride and don’t risk falling flat on my face, or act out of obedience, trusting that God’s will will be done as I steward each opportunity He gives me.

One sphere in which I consistently faced these two choices was music. I am so grateful that God gave me a musical heart, and just as grateful that he put me in a home with another musician. This extended summer has been one filled-to-the-brim with melodies, harmonies and broken guitar strings. Nutie and I are always learning songs freshly translated into Spanish and/or Miskito to share with our friends here.

The songs consistently strike deep into the hearts of our local friends; they always want to sing them! I have sung “Cristo, se el Centro” so many times now sometimes I forget the words in English! Honestly, a lot of times I feel more like I’m mindlessly repeating vowel sounds than sincerely worshipping the Creator of this world who died for me.

Not exactly the most entertaining or engaging to sing the same 5+ songs over and over and over again.

But then there are moments when I remember once again that missions is not about me.

Like the day I sang with Selia, a dear friend from the market. She had just miscarried, again, after four months of pregnancy. As my heart broke inside for my beloved sister, I looked over and saw her, eyes closed, struggling to sing the words to one of her favorite songs. “Jisas, yang kupi awa…” Jesus, my heart string, a Miskito term of endearment reserved only for your closest loves. A beautiful picture; Jesus, the one closest to me, the one inside of me. The one who’s love holds my heart together when everything around me is falling apart.

Moments like two weeks ago. Well past sunset, Rosap, one of Tom and Nutie’s dear friends and disciples, came over to our house. We welcomed him in with open arms, and he told us his news. His daughter, Glenda, had just died one hour ago. In thirties, Glenda slipped into a coma because of undiagnosed diabetes. And she died! We cried and prayed with Rosap, and went to visit his family the next day. Nutie and I sang of God’s love and faithfulness….. “Naikra laya kang kaiksa, Jisas baku ban ai sin” from “He sees each tear that falls, and hears me when I call.”

God has put one particular family deep inside my heart here in Waspam, the Lewises. The first time I met Cleveland and Anna was when they told Tom and Nutie that Anna was pregnant. Just three weeks ago we learned that Anna was going to have twins, a boy and a girl. They were asking us for name suggestions; we were becoming a family!

This morning Nutie told me the worst possible news: Anna had miscarried. She’d been having trouble for a week, and on her way to the hospital she gave birth to her two precious children. They were only 6 months developed, each weighing approximately 3 lbs. Anna said the little boy had dark skin and hair just like Cleveland, and their daughter looked like a little Anna. They had already been dead for a day inside of her. Anna and Cleveland are crushed, heartbroken. Nutie and I visited Anna in the hospital this afternoon. We cried and prayed, and listened and listened. We heard her heartache and felt like it was our own. The doctors were keeping her in the hospital because of her high blood pressure, telling her she must calm down or risk her own health. We kept encouraging her to bring her sorrow to Jesus; He’s the only One who is strong enough to bear it.

As we sang of God’s love and faithfulness, Anna began to cry. “Firme estar, sin inclinar, mis raices profundizar. Firme estar, sin inclinar en Ti. Yo quiero ser como la palmera al lado de un rio de agua viva. Sera mi cancion y mi oracion hasta el fin.”

“Unmovable, unshakable, I want my roots to go down deep. Unmovable, unshakeable in You. I want to be like a tree planted by the streams of living water. This will by my song, this will be my prayer, till the end.”

I saw Anna relax as God’s truth and comfort filled the room. God the Father knows the searing pain of losing a precious child, and His presence was felt by all in the room. This is ministry. This is the Gospel, God’s truth and love intercepting the most broken and painful parts of our lives. And, by the blood of Jesus, redeeming them.

Advertisements

Wangki Mairin: From Page to Personal

Standard

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.

Wangki Mairin: Weather-Woman

Standard

One of the first things I noticed about Tom, and one of the things I admire in him, is that he has this crazy ability to predict the weather. And 95% of the time, he’s correct, down to the hour. We’ll start our day around five or six am, and he’ll commonly say something like, “It’s going to rain at 10:30”. I look at the cloudless sky overhead, and my Alaskan brain wonders how he could know this. We’ll have overcast skies for days back home, with no precipitation at all. Nutie will say, “Ok. We’ll take the laundry down before then.” and sure enough, the sky opens up at half-past ten, just like Tom predicted.

Like I said, that’s usually how things go in the Keogh house, but these past few days have been different. Hurricane Isaac (currently affecting my beloved friends at GCBI in Florida) has messed with our weather patterns here, too. This morning was exceptionally warm; 90 degrees before nine am. Sitting around the table at lunch today, Tom looked at the darkening clouds in the distant horizon and said, “It’s not going to rain. This will all just pass over us.”

Taking another bite of my rice (I LOVE the fact that we eat rice here every day!), I responded, “That’s what you said yesterday. It was just as hot yesterday morning, but it was down-pouring something crazy in the afternoon. Usually you’re spot-on with the weather, but I’m calling this one. It’s gonna rain hard.”

Later that afternoon I was sitting in the dining room, preparing for English class that was to start in an hour, and one of my students walks in. “Hola! I’ve come early to beat the rain!” Rosa, Nutie and I chatted until 4:45 and then walked over to our classroom to greet the rest of the class. With only three students, I figured the rest of my class stayed home anticipating bad weather. Just as I thought, 5pm on the dot, the skies dumped their contents, preventing any other students from coming. In spite of the weather, we began the class, but soon the rain became a problem. Our classroom has a beautiful thatched roof and no walls; we soon discovered that our roof now leaks, and the run-off was falling faster than the gutter could carry it away. After only 10 minutes of rain we had 2 inches of standing water on the floor. We hurried back into the house, drying ourselves off and setting up a makeshift classroom. But we had to wait for the rain to lighten up; sheet after sheet pounded against the metal roof, making audible conversation impossible. We ended up with only thirty minutes of usable class time, but we made the most of it. This is life in La Muskitia; things seldom go according to plan.

As I waited for the rain to pass, I laughed inside at the picture in front of me. The weather wasn’t ideal for my current situation, but it was exactly as I’d predicted!

Wangki Mairin: Wrapping Paper

Standard

For the past three months I have been working to develop a Bible curriculum for the children along the Rio Coco. It has been a stretching, and very humbling, experience; sitting around a table with men older than my Dad, sometimes I’m amazed that they’d want the input of a 19-year-old girl who doesn’t have as much life experience or anywhere near so much cultural knowledge. Right now we’re working on boiling down the life of Abraham into two concise stories to teach Biblical principles to five and six year olds. They say that you always learn more by teaching, and God is certainly using this process of meditating on His Word to instruct me in a personal way.

When I stop and think about all that God has taught me though my time in Waspam, one of the first things that comes to mind is the issue of surrender. Four days after GCBI graduation, I flew off to a whole new life. New language, new culture, new food, new climate, new lifestyle, new friends, new schedule, new environment. God asked me to give everything to Him, and, by His grace, I guess I did. But His desire for surrender didn’t stop there. He has put so many things in my path, moments when I am forced to recognize how my own desires sharply contrast with His desires. Moments when I must choose to die to myself, take up the cross He’s set before me and bear it well. For His glory and my benefit.

Three separate times I prepared a Bible study to do with different friends here. I was excited at the opportunity to use the gifts and knowledge God gave me at GCBI. But even stronger than my excitement was my fear. I was terrified. Here I was faced with a real opportunity, but I was afraid and unwilling to put in the effort and vulnerability such an opportunity would require. So each time I would spend the morning in the Word, preparing  the Bible study, and asking the Holy Spirit to prepare my heart.

“God, I don’t want to do this, but I can see how Your hand might be in it. I want to do Your will more than anything, so change my heart. Give me a willing attitude as I faithfully obey.”

Laying my sinful perspective at His feet, I felt my heart change, and readily finished my preparations. But each time, the same thing happened: no one showed. I was confused; why would God bring me to the point where I’m wanting and waiting to obey, only to keep it from happening?

This year has been crazy for my mom. She has sat front-row-and-center on the worst roller coaster ride her health has ever seen, and I’ve watched the coaster from long distance. Every time her health rapidly declined, I fell to my knees.

“God, do you want me to go back to Alaska? I know that You brought me here to Waspam on purpose, and I love it here. I don’t want to go, but I can see how Your hand might be in this. I want to do what You want. You will, Father. I’m all Yours, whatever comes.”

Each time I sat at my computer, mentally calculating airline costs, formulating travel plans. And as soon as the moment came when I was fully ready and willing to go back, God made it clear He wanted to me stay in Nicaragua!

I couldn’t help but wonder what God was doing. It’s like God was asking for something from me, asking me to give myself over to what He had planned. But then as soon as I placed it in His hands, He would open the box and the contents had changed. It didn’t hold a trip to the emergency room in Seattle, instead it was 2 more months in Nicaragua, just like before.

I can imagine Abraham was just as confused. God promised him that Isaac would be the father to a great people, and, in turn, produce a blessing for the whole world. But then God tells him to kill his son. “What, Lord? How could you ask this of me? Of course I don’t want to kill my son; I would die first. But I can see Your hand in this, You’ve commanded me to do so…”

I picture Abraham praying as he gathers the wood together, “Oh God, change my heart. Give me a willing attitude as I faithfully obey.”

So, with Isaac’s hand in his, Abraham climbs the mountain, with every step choosing to die to himself, clinging to his faith that God knows best. With every step Abraham’s heart becomes more and more willing to do God’s bidding; willfully blocking out every tempting voice inside his head, Abraham lifts the knife over his precious son. He’s laid his beloved gift in the hands of God, heart willing and open to God’s desires, and in that exact moment, God opens the box. It’s empty. God doesn’t want Isaac’s life.

I see Abraham sitting on top of that mountain, holding his son in his arms, tearfully asking God, “I don’t understand. Why would you ask me for my son, only to give him back again? What on earth could possibly come from all this?” And, in my mind’s eye, I see God holding Abraham’s gift, not looking at the empty box but the beautiful wrapping paper. On it I see written in flowing script one single word in many different colors: surrender. God responds to Abraham’s questions with this one statement: “Now I know that you truly fear God” (Gen 22:12, NLT)

This was the gift God wanted from Abraham, his complete surrender. I always thought that when God presented me with an opportunity, He wanted the gift, the action, the speech, the song, the prayer, and that the only way I could give this gift was through a surrendered heart. But now I’m starting to see that maybe God isn’t so crazy about the gift itself. An eternal God can’t be too surprised by a gift from a 19-year-old girl, however grand it may be to me. God doesn’t care about the gift, He wants the wrapping paper. He wants my surrender, that’s my truest gift to Him.

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” Psalm 139:6

Wangki Mairin: Everyday In-Between

Standard

As my time in India started to end last summer, I began to reflect on the many things God had taught me thus far. I came to India with a few personal missions of my own, one of which was for God to confirm whether or not long-term missions is His will for my life. I got a resounding, “Yes” from my Lord, which still thrills me to my core, but God also told me something else: I was really young. At the time I couldn’t really explain it, but I had this unmistakable impression that, though I was going to live and work overseas, I wasn’t quite ready yet. Unsure of what exactly He had in mind, I knew that God had some things in store for me before I began my life in a different culture.

Now in Nicaragua, God has been telling me the exact same thing. As my time here is also coming to a close (only 1 month left), I keep sensing that the same thing: God has a special season ahead of me, one of great importance for my growth and maturity. And it’s looking like this “season” is going to be in the States! I’m always amazed at how God prepares me for whatever’s next; He’s given me real anticipation and joy about returning to the US and my life in Alaska.

A few days ago, I wrote an email to my best friend (God knew what He was doing when He put Kelsey and I together as roommates), rejoicing with her over what God’s been doing in/through her and sharing what He’s doing inside of me:

Believe it or not, I’m seriously considering abandoning nursing (my current major at University of Alaska Anchorage) and going ‘all out’. Can you picture me as Dr. Countryman? I’m thinking about becoming a Pediatrician! I’ve got a few reservations, however, one of which is the crazy amount of time it will take. I wouldn’t be done with school till I am 26 or 27, and those would be years of practically-no-life-I’m-so-crazy-busy. Add on to that however many years it will take to pay off those last years of med school. I’m not so found of the idea that I won’t be overseas till I’m 30+…” So I poured out my concerns to my awesome sister in Christ.

Just after sending off the email I set about some household chores, popping in my lone-working ear bud to listen to my iPod. I’m slowly working my way through Pastor Mark Driskoll’s sermon series in Luke (from Mars Hill Church in Seattle), and I was about halfway through a sermon I’d started earlier. Like only He can, God used a sermon on the genealogy in Luke 5 to touch me exactly where I needed. Take just a few minutes and listen to it for yourself, starting around 19:55 and ending around 23:45.

I was amazed; God was using this preaching to address one of my biggest concerns: I don’t want to waste time. I want to get started wherever God wants me ASAP; I don’t want to be sitting around, watching my 20’s pass by. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t be wasting them after all.

I’ve just restarted Corrie ten Boom’s autobiography, The Hiding Place and I’ve been struck by something: the book starts when Corrie’s already 40 years old. I am used to reading biographies telling people’s stories of salvation and spiritual growth, documenting the journey from the very beginning. But this is different. The reader enters the world of the ten Booms, vibrant believers who live every moment in step with Jesus.

As I read stories like The Hiding Place it’s easy for me to become discouraged. These stories are filled with people of incredible faith, people deeply rooted in God’s Word who know Him so intimately. It’s hard for me not to compare myself with them, and I’m always found lacking. How could I ever come to the point where such incredible faith flows through my veins in such a natural, everyday way? I know it’s not impossible for God (to do in someone else), but  it sure seems impossible for a nineteen-year-old girl from small-town Alaska.

But the more I think on this dilemma, God gently reminds me of one comforting truth: He uses the everyday in-between. Corrie didn’t start that way. She started just like I did, a simple young woman who gave every day over to the God she loved with her whole heart.

And this is where India, Nicaragua, Seattle and Corrie ten Boom unite. God has made it unmistakably clear: He has a plan for this next season of my life, whatever this season holds. The story we all associate with Corrie ten Boom didn’t start till much farther down the road than I’d like to see for myself, but it’s very evident that God used every day of those 40 years. He used them to teach her about Himself, to mold her into a better image of Christ, and to prepare her for the incredible journey he had in store for her. Her faithfulness in everyday produced that mature foundation I noticed from the beginning.

The frustrating thing is that it skips over how she grew that foundation. But perhaps it’s better that way. Now I’m not tempted to adopt her exact method as a legalistic check-list guaranteed for spiritual growth. Instead, I must spend every day at the feet of Jesus, drinking in His every word, letting Him guide me every step of the way. Trusting that each of those steps, whether on American or foreign soil, is never wasted.

Thank You, Almighty Father, that You are a God who loves to use “the in-between”, those awkward seasons that don’t always make sense. In those times when I’m looking ahead to the next great thing, You are in fact working in the “right now”. Help me to walk in step with You, my Author and Perfector, and trust Your perfect timing. You know exactly what You’re doing!

Wangki Mairin: Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful

Standard

This is one of my favorite songs. Every time we appear at church, Nutie and I are asked to sing a song, so we try to mix it up and sing a new song each time. I’ve thrown a few songs into the mix, songs that fit whatever God’s teaching me at the time, and this is one of them. Everyone uses their gifts here, Tom translated (the man’s tri-lingually fluent, it’s amazing) and Nutie and I sing our hearts out. The video quality isn’t all that great; we had to compress it to get it up online (oh the joys of jungle internet). But I’m happy to have it!

Enjoy and worship with me!

 

Wangki Mairin: Moments and Memories

Standard

I love lightening so bright it ignites the whole sky

I love lemongrass tea

I love the pounding rain

I love the sound of the Moravian choir

I love plantains fried in coconut oil

I love the sea of butterflies on Nutie’s flowers

I love the woven underside of the Discipleship Center’s thatched roof

I love the “2/3 understanding” feeling when I’m talking with Silpa and Paula

I love sitting in the front porch hammock in the middle of a big rainstorm

I love Miskito tortillas

I love being able to keep up with Tom and Nutie on my bike

I love Tuesday nights

I love mosquito nets

I love being wrapped up in my pareo, feeling the wind from the boat ride

I love feeling the thunder in the cavity of my chest

I love that “hurry” doesn’t exist here

I love the Keogh’s clay dishes

I love Friday afternoons

I love ceiling fans

I love mimicking vowel sounds when “singing” Miskito songs

I love laughing away the shocking chill of a cold shower

I love having the power to completely transform someone’s face just by smiling at them

I love dancing with the kids in the downriver schools

I love when the dance with me

I love how I see their eyes looking at me whenever I close mine

I love having to put on my OB sweatshirt at two in the afternoon on rainy days

I love the waves of shivers down my spine that come with standing directly under a fan on a sweaty day

I love how these freaky, honkin’ wasps can fly straight up like a helicopter

I love going to sleep to the sound of the bugs and waking up to the sound of the birds

I love peanut butter and nutella

I love their bamboo ceiling

I love “bathing” in water with 2-inch visibility

I love having to pull the sheet over me at 2 in the morning

I love waking up with a song in my head that I don’t understand

I love Miskito kisses

I love watching Tom and Nutie dance

I love making my English students laugh

I love that we eat rice everyday

I love Wangki boat-rides in the rain

I love seeing Selia’s eyes close in worship at the market

I love mamon

I love how weird English sounds after spending an afternoon in Spanish and Miskito

I love how easily the space and silence of life here is filled with prayer

I love being instantly enveloped by swarms of Boom children

I love having to wear our boots to take a bath and the slurping-sloshing sounds they make all the way back

I love seeing the bread girl smile as I come up to her

I love how electricity, and running water, and internet are such luxurious privileges now

I love that Waspam is now in my dreams

I love taking naps on the cold cement floor that sucks the heat right out of you (sort of)

I love that moment when I realize that it’s not a cockroach, just a gecko running across the floor

 

I love how God has used all the things in my life from before coming here

 … like my MK fearlessness concerning getting dirty

… like asking Lauren to teach me to play guitar

… like passing out from dehydration in Delhi

… like moving in with the Thorntons and learning how to step in rhythm with a whole different life

… like spending the previous year in various forms of heat

… like learning how to sing harmony

… like teaching 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School with Ms. Becky Glick

… like taking Hindi classes last summer

… like recognizing the healing and rejuvenating power of worshipping God in that exact moment when you feel to dry to praise

… like learning I can handle heat in Israel

… like learning how to set up a tent from family hiking trips

… like learning to French braid before 4-H camp

… like learning I can handle cockroaches if I need to on OB

… like living with on-again-off again electricity in Sentani

 

I love knowing that just like God has used every step of my journey so far, that “He who began a good work in [me] will bring it to completion”, laying brick upon brick, lesson upon lesson, memory upon memory on His foundation, preparing me for what He knows is next