Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Update - Becky

Hey, guys. I just wanted to give a quick update about what has been going on with us lately. We have not had as much opportunity to be at our computers to keep in touch with everyone, so I'm sorry if we haven't been as timely in responding to messages (and sorry if this post is pretty scattered). Tommy and I have been very busy dealing with our house. We were having to go around and light some fires under various contractors, and now we are in the middle of painting, which is a pretty significant undertaking. Meanwhile we have both been sick. Both of us were dealing with stomach issues (Tommy especially), and I (Becky) had a cold. Thankfully we are pretty much better now, though. This week we are missing "camp" for the first time in many years. (We always staff at Palmetto Bible Camp during "Superweek", but, obviously, we're not there this year.) It's very strange not to be there. Hopefully we can go next year. We just got back from an overnight trip to Managua to pick up a videographer who Tommy will be working with over the next week. They will be going around getting footage for a documentary about Texas Tech's work in Nicaragua with the mission. (I plan to keep painting at the house while Tommy is occupied.) Right now, there are A LOT of people at the mission. We currently have the Olive Branch medical mission team along with students from Texas Tech (also five interns). This whole summer the mission has one group after another coming, so I think it will be August before we don't have anyone here. Because of being busy with the house and being sick, Tommy and I have been mostly out of the loop on what the groups have been doing. However, David and Chris have been taking individuals from the groups up to a town called Yankee where our team is developing a sustainable living "showcase" to display each of our different projects. So far things have been progressing well with that. Tommy has been up there some documenting the work as he has been able. At the moment our house is our priority, though (well, aside from Tommy helping with the documentary right now). Our goal is to be in there and have things ready for Tommy's mom and our nephew who are set to come at the end of the month. (We can still really use prayers towards this end!) If we can just get that done, we should be able to shift our focus to other good things we have really been wanting to do. Anyway, this is our world right now. It kinda feels like we're in a bubble or a vacuum. It is satisfying to see our house coming together, but we'll be very, very glad when we're out of this stage.


P.S. - I would like to request specific prayers that not only will we be able to get in our house soon but that our house will be a blessing to many others. We have been blessed by a whole handful of people who have kept us from being homeless over the past year or so (our sister Erica Brown, Benny & Donna Baker, David & Caryn Henniger). It is very important to me that we are able able to "pay it forward" with our house. Even if we don't have people actually staying with us, my goal is to have it filled most of the time with people (our Nicaraguan friends & church members as well as various North Americans who happen to be here). I want to be able to be very generous with food and different things on a regular basis, but I'm concerned that this will be financially difficult for us right now. In my mind it seems to me that, for us to give the way I want to give, God will have to show up and provide. (He has so far in our lives, though, so I'm just trusting that He will continue in this manner.) :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spanish, the Metric System, and Logic vs. Feelings - Becky

You know what? I like Spanish. There is still a lot that I need to learn, but I feel pretty good about what I do know so far. I still find myself saying "huh?" a lot and getting stuck because of holes in my vocabulary. However, I am able to have meaningful conversation with my Spanish-speaking friends, and I really only use a translator for things that are "official" and "important." Lately it has been coming so much more naturally to me, even to the point of me having to stop myself from speaking Spanish with people who speak only English. When I learn new things about Spanish now, it is easier for my brain to figure out what to do with them. (¡Gracias a Dios! y muchas, muchas gracias a mi buena amiga Tania, quien es mi maestra de español.)

The thing is, Spanish makes sense. Sure, there are many things about it that are confusing because I am not used to them, but overall Spanish is pretty consistent. The vowel sounds are always the same. Consonant sounds are (pretty much) always the same. There are pretty straightforward rules (más o menos) about which syllable of a given word gets the emphasis. Once you know all of these rules, it is not too difficult to read something in Spanish and be able to pronounce it correctly. Compared to English (which is crazy and incredibly inconsistent), Spanish is fairly simple. In fact, I would even say that it is a pretty logical system of language.

Why, then, does it take so much work to learn it? Also, why doesn't everyone in the States learn it? (Just to be clear, I'm not saying that everyone should learn it necessarily; I'm trying to prove a different point, so stick with me here.) After all, it is the language of one of our neighboring countries. I've decided that it's like the metric system. It's logical and may even be better in some ways than what we're currently using, but most of us aren't willing to stop using "feet" and "degrees Fahrenheit" because they are what we know. It doesn't matter that "meters" divide so nicely by tens and hundreds and that "degrees Celsius" line up with the freezing and boiling points of water; we just want to keep doing what makes us comfortable.

The point I'm trying to make is that, as much as we may like to think that our decisions are guided by logic and reason, we are sentimental beings. We get so attached to our current norms that we tend to reject other ways of doing things, even if the new ways make more sense. We do make changes in our lives, but not because of logic (most of the time). We change because we have a sentimental reason to do so. I never would have bothered even to try to learn Spanish if it weren't that I have already given my heart to people who speak it. I'm still resisting the metric system... and I don't even have a good excuse.

This reality makes me wonder what other good things I may be stupidly avoiding—or stupidly holding on to. What personal habits are detrimental to my health but I continue to practice anyway? Are there any people with whom I could be really good friends but who I just feel uncomfortable about approaching? Do I have any "pet" spiritual ideas that make me feel good but don't actually jive with reality? If I answered all of these questions honestly, I could come up with a pretty long list of changes to make in myself. But, as a typical human being, unfortunately, for me to bother to start the process of change, I need more than just rational arguments to do so. Something must appeal to my heart and not just to my head.

But, I think that God set things up that way. This is not to excuse bad behavior at all (because we know that we need to do the "right thing" regardless of our personal feelings at the moment). However, God made us all emotional creatures, and it would behoove us to take note of that. God never said that logic is always good and emotion is always bad. In fact, many things about God Himself are quite illogical. It is definitely not logical to send a son who loves and obeys you perfectly to die for people who constantly reject you. It's even less logical to have created the world in the first place, knowing that you would have to make this sacrifice.

I think I would be worried, though, if everything about God were logical. I mean, would I really want to worship someone who was small and "neat" enough to fit inside my limited, faulty brain? Yes, there are some things about God that do seem logical to me. If the rule is that sacrifice must be made for sin, it makes sense that the death of a perfect person could be enough sacrifice for the whole world. But, I don't believe in Jesus because it makes logical sense to me; I believe because my faith is personal to me. As a missionary, of course I want others to come to put their faith in Christ, but I know not to expect much from making logical arguments. There has to be some kind of personal connection. I would even venture to guess that most people who are decidedly not Christians are turned off from Christianity more because of negative personal experiences than simply finding Christianity illogical. Like I said, God isn't quite logical, and I don't think we should go around trying to make Him so. Just like I only started learning Spanish for personal reasons, most people will only believe in God for personal reasons.

This is not to say that logic has no place in spiritual matters. We should use logic with emotion for the best results. It's jut that most of the time we aren't using logic like we may think that we are, and we need to recognize how important feelings are in ourselves and in others. Logic can present us with ideas, but it is our feelings that cause us to do something about those ideas... And I think that's okay.

What do you think? These are certainly just my opinions, and I would love to hear some other perspectives.