Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From Heather's Heart

Dear Friends and Family - well it has been way to long since we have had our "put your feet up and have a cup of tea" moment. These last few months have been full of good things and full of challenges. There is so much on my heart. My desire in these moments is to be real and vulnerable in our prayer requests, give you some insight on how to pray, and hopefully encourage you as well. It is true of any time, but particularly true of times likes these, that if you think of us and pray for us and the ministry God is doing here in Botswana,could you just send us a quick note of encouragement? We have felt pretty disconnected from people and we deeply appreciate your notes and prayers.

Our mission school is in full swing. We began mid-January. We don't have the 18 students that people said were coming - but numbers have never bothered us. Ever since we were inyouth ministry, our motto has been, "It is worth the ONE!" (What if I was the one?). Though it is true, we could not run the school with one student, having 7 is no disappointment to us. Among the students, are two Americans from one of our supporting churches in Arizona. What a blessing they are us. They add tremendously to this class of missionaries in training - and HAD to count the cost before they came here, unlike some of our more "local" students - who only come to realize the cost as they go to classes. Whew! Even though Michael and I have been involved in foreign missions ALL of our married years, and full time in foreign missions for 7 1/2 of our married years, we have never seen training like this. It is a privilege to be in this place and witness what God is going in the students. Now, you did not hear me say it is easy to witness what God is doing - but it is a privilege. When we REALLY surrender to God, and are in a safe place, - whoa - the stripping and breaking that must take place in ALL of us if we want to love the way Jesus does - is intense! Just the thought of that - seriously, makes me cry. I know I needed the stripping and breaking - ours just always came while we were in the middle of full-time ministry. :) When the students have wanted to give up - we've said, "Oh please, don't give up. God is doing things! It is hard - but He is doing things in you. You are in a safe place - where not only does God love you, but we love you!" ...oh, the times we have needed, and on occasions, experienced brothers and sisters saying that to us. Right now, I just have this mental flash of God's people that were there for us on different occasions when the road we were walking on was so difficult, and at times, unbearable. We so thank you!! You know who you are! We love you! Every one of us need people like that in our lives that will tell us the truth, comfort us when God is stretching us and stand with us. Please pray for our students. God has a heart for the nations!!!! When men and women of God catch that heart for the nations as well - they must be prayed for because the enemy does not like that. Thank you for your prayers. If I tell you their names - will you please pray for them by name? Sadi, Tshiamo, Mariska, Dikarabo, Zetro and Grace (our first couple coming together), Mac and Jory (our Americans).

Among the exciting things that have gone on, is that our baby girl started Reception (like our kindergarten) in Jan and lost her first tooth on Jan. 30. Wow! Poor girl! Because her brothers are so much older than her, she has not experienced that before - and did not know that you are SUPPOSED to lose your teeth! You can imagine the horror that brought. She was in her bedroom, changing her shirt as I requested, because I said it was too hot to wear a long-sleeved shirt. JUST that morning, her daddy was offering her a bite of his bagel and I noticed she turned her head to the side before she took her bite, and I said to myself, "now why did she do that?". So, as she was removing her shirt, she decided to help her pull it off, she would grab her sleeve with her teeth. Oops! All of a sudden we hear screaming and terror and "Mommy, mommy!" It was a terrible sound. We have found several scorpions around, so I honestly wondered if she was stung by a scorpion, it was so bad. She continues, "Mommy! Mommy!" I said, "Charissma - what is wrong, honey?! Why are you shouting and crying?" "My tooth! My tooth! My tooth came out!" I told her to show me her mouth and there was hardly any blood at all, which told me that tooth was more than ready to come out. So I said, "Charissma, sit on my lap, calm down and stop your crying so I can tell you why we are going to celebrate that your tooth came out." While in disbelief, she quickly calmed down, wondering why we would be happy about that.We began to explain to her that she is supposed to lose her teeth, as funny as that seems, so she can get her big girl teeth. Josiah helped by explaining to her the great phenomenon that would happen while she slept. And by the way, the inflation these days!! Daddy plays the "tooth fairy" - and I cannot believe what our children are given for their teeth! Our closest friends here, who are South Africans, explained to us that they tell their children that the tooth fairy is going to build a piano with their teeth. If the teeth are black, they are the black keys - if they are white, they are the white keys. See! Missionary kids get to grow up with SO MUCH CULTURE! :)

Another inevitable Walker happening is that our youngest son, Josiah, has turned 13! Now all of our sons are teenagers! That is crazy! In April, our first-born son, Beracah, turns 17.

Where is all the time going?! I find I ask myself that very often these days. Before you know it, another month passes by and you wonder where it went. All the more reason that we should spend our time wisely and make the most of every opportunity. Our life is about people. People take time. People take energy. We know that THE BEST, most effective way that we make a difference in God's Kingdom is to love His people and care for His people and train His people. It is hard sometimes and draining. I am a people person - I get energized by being with people. But I have found recently that I have felt peopled-out. (I know that there are more than a few of you that can identify with that). I am pouring my life into 3 women right now on an individual basis, not counting the women and teenage girls at church that come on Wednesday nights to house church. I don't feel obligated to do it - I love it. But you know, there are times, when you are in the middle of difficult things that it seems there is very little to give. There is NOTHING to give if we don't meet with our Master every day. We have nothing. God is doing things. God is growing us up. A few weeks back I taught the women on endurance and perseverance. We so often want God to deliver us FROM every trouble that comes our way. We cry and beg and plead with God. But the thing is, so often I really feel that God is saying, "Please Heather. See the big picture. I don't want to deliver you from that thing - I want to be your deliverer IN that thing. There is character for you in this struggle! Do you want to be robbed of the character that I long to build in your life as a result of this thing?" Man, God is so good, so beautiful, so capable of using those difficult things to build endurance, character and hope through our suffering.

A few weeks back I said to my husband, "Honey, right now - I feel like giving up on everything!". You know what? That was true. Homeschooling is another current challenge. While I used to get one migraine about every six months, I have had more than I can count since May. In ministry here, wanting desperately to be relevant in a culture that is not my own. I did FEEL like giving up on everything in that moment - but I never WANTED to give up. I felt like giving up - but I never WANTED to give up. I told a friend, "You know? I know that if I went to a doctor right now and told him how I was feeling, and then told him what my life has looked like this last year - he would say, 'ummm. Yes, Mrs. Walker, and you are asking me if you are stressed?'" Furlough was awesome - and necessary, but it is no 5 month vacation, contrary to some people's thinking. After changing locations every 3-4 days for five months and arriving back to our new home in Lobatse, Botswana in May, we immediately began house renovations and received with joy two mission teams (among one of which had five of my family members in it!). We finished renovations in October, only to realize later that God would ask us to move again and do more house renovations. So, maybe I have felt displaced?....All is well. We are finished with renovations and so thankful for God's provision through His people and for His wisdom. He knew that we were really preparing the perfect place to house mission students and He knew how He would provide for us. We are here to make an investment in the people of Botswana. Just because things are hard, doesn't mean we must quit. So - my brothers and sisters - be encouraged if you are going through a very difficult patch in your race right now. PLEASE DON'T QUIT THE RACE! We cannot WIN if we quit the race. We can only win if we run. See when we think of races - we think of one winner and the rest are losers - but that is not how it is in God's race. Run the race with perseverance and YOU WILL WIN. We can't win the battle if we don't fight. We will fight! Let's fight this fight together! Let's run this race together! I want to cross the line with you.

Maybe a few of you might say, "Now Heather, why did you have to tell us all that?". One of my sweet sisters, whom I love dearly, may say, "Man, Heather, that was downer - you should be more positive.". I am positively real. :) If we can't be honest with you all and yet count on you to intercede with us and for us - then truly, we have no one like that. We are so grateful for all of you! We know that the economy is bearing it's weight on many of you - and us. We know that a few of you are facing struggles that we could not imagine - losing a loved one, fighting situations or diseases that are out of your control. We are praying for you. We love you! Let run this race together! Let's look to Him together! We love you all - more than we can tell you on a page. Thank you so much for your prayers - just please pass a note to us when you shoot up a prayer!

...Hope your coffee or tea has not grown cold reading that long book. Thanks so much!!

Lotsa love. Runnin' this race to win,

Heather - Michael, Beracah, Judah, Josiah and Charissma


Sarah W said...

I LOVED reading this post! Kev and I are enjoying some rest time at his folks lake house on Smith Mt. Lake and my coffee is next to me. I felt like I just had a whole conversation with you, and my heart is happy. I have tears in my eyes.....I love hearing and reading your heart friend! Sending you some encouragement today.....don't stop fighting, you are precious in His sight and He loves you! Take time to rest in His presence today! We love you!!! Sarah :)

JanetB said...

Thanks for sharing your heart, Heather! We're praying for you guys! By the way, you have a beautiful family. You guys look like the cover of a magazine! They inherited those great smiles from Mom and Dad, I do believe! :o)