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Wangki Mairin: Not About Me

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“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.

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Wangki Mairin: A sweet smell…. Bread Brothers

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Henry (22 yrs) and Cleveland (23 yrs)

I woke up this morning thinking today was going to be a relatively restful day, a break between a busy yesterday, and a full tomorrow. And, while it wasn’t what I was originally thinking, it totally was…

Just as I was about to start making breakfast, we heard someone come up to the house (people don’t knock here in Waspam. Instead, they wait about four yards from the door and shout “Buenas”, a greeting to let you know they’ve come to see you). We opened the door, and it was Cleveland! This young man is new to Waspam, but he and his wife, Anna, have made a deep connection with the Keoghs. After looking high and low for work in the area, and finding none, Cleveland decided to start a bread-making business; his mother ran a little bakery throughout his childhood, so kneading dough is second nature to him. Anna just found out she is pregnant, so the sooner the business gets going, the better. Cleveland had stopped by to deliver some bread we had ordered earlier, his brother and business partner, Henry, joining him after finishing his deliver rounds.

They started to share their stories with us, and I soon saw that despite Cleveland’s mere 23 years, and Henry’s 22, these brothers are what we’d call “old souls”. They have seen much hardship in life, both from tragic circumstances and their own choices. But what astounded me the most is that despite all the tragedy and heartbreak these brothers have seen, their love for the Lord is natural, authentic and vibrant. You can see it in their faces, hear it in their Creole voices. (Here in Nicaragua, “Creole” is a form of Pidgin English, spoken in areas south of Waspam, that sounds kind of Caribbean. These boys grew up speaking it.)

As the brothers shared their struggles in finding work, being taken advantage of by manipulative employers, and falling in love with the wrong girls, Tom was able to link their pain and cries of injustice with Biblical truth. A beautiful scene. As he shared, you could see the relief on their faces; they kept saying, “Dat iz troot, raieet dea!” (“Wow, that’s true!”) as they saw how God’s Word confirmed their inner convictions. What a privilege to witness cross-cultural discipleship in action!

We seamlessly transitioned from reading the Word to praising God for His goodness, and spent the next 2+ hours sharing songs with each other. Many were written by Cleveland and Henry themselves, and a few we all knew. No one wanted to leave, for God’s sweet presence was felt by all in the room.

These young boys love the Lord with all their hearts, as they have since childhood. Pray with me that they would have a desire to sink into God’s Word; a passionate, everyday faith can only grow exponentially when given the meat of God’s truth to sustain it. And pray for this Saturday; we’re going over to their house this time (and I’m super excited). Pray that God will protect this time (it’s so easy for other things to come up here), and that He will give us His eyes to see, His ears to hear how to encourage this young family closer to Jesus and to live more and more like Him.

God, in His amazing sovereignty, knew that a morning spent encouraging and being encouraged by believers my own age would be so much more refreshing than one spent alone “relaxing”. And I shall never forget this morning. Thank You, Jesus.