Sunday, March 20, 2011

grow together

While we were in Texas last year we got dozens and dozens of emails from folks planning or wanting to move to Haiti to do longer-term stuff. We answered as many as we could and gave advice while trying not to feel jealous of those that could go where we wished we were.

As the weeks in Texas became months there were times when things in our hearts were ugly and often times we found ourselves examining things and exposing unattractive truths. At one particular point toward the end of the year I found myself feeling disgusted with myself. I hated that I was jealous of someone in particular.  I forced myself to confess it to a few trusted people and to have accountability for what I knew was not pretty or acceptable to my Dad in Heaven. I asked Troy to pray with me that I would do the work I needed to do to remove that grossness.

By the time we got home to Haiti things were markedly better and I was ready to start "phase two" of our life here. (Pre EQ and Post EQ is and always will be the way we divide our time in Haiti.)

We have often heard that the failure of interpersonal relationships is the number one or two (depending on what you read) reason that people leave ministry/leave their respective mission field.  I knew this when I moved to Haiti.  I had read the articles and thought I was ready.  We recognized in advance that most people leave - not because they cannot deal with cultural differences and not because of other obvious things.  Rather, most people give up because of inter-personal relationships with their peers - because of conflict with their own co-laborers.

People cannot work well with other people. 

After I got here I witnessed this first-hand repeatedly.  I suddenly knew exactly what power, ego, jealousy, competition, and pride did in and among "missionaries."  People quit. Friends split.

I began to hate how people set missionaries up on a pedestal as if they are some big thing.  It's not true. We're all jacked up sinners saved by grace alone.  We don't play well with others any better than anyone else. If anything, the pressure cooker of the host culture makes us all more sucktacular at inter-personal relationships.

I recently read this:

"Equally important is unrealistic expectations. Books with nice formulas and not enough honesty, balance, and biblical reality often create this unrealistic expectation. A.W. Tozer urged us to develop skepticism in connection with some of the things we hear or read about. Godly, gifted leaders are still sinners saved by grace or will continue to sin or fail. We must be ready to forgive and grow together in repentance and brokenness"

Read that last sentence "We must be ready to forgive and grow together in repentance and brokenness."

That is no.small.thing.

I am the first to acknowledge that sometimes certain people cannot and will not work well together and a pleasant, mature, gracious split is the best thing for all parties.  Sometimes you can do everything in your power to honestly tackle issues and the parties won't come to a place that qualifies as "repentance" or "brokenness".  When that is the case the best thing to do is walk away and refrain from casting stones.

Troy and I have had conflict with people we've worked with in our time here.  Sometimes it ended cordially, even well ...  Other times not so much.

We're feeling like God handed us a humongo gift in our new co-missionaries at Heartline. We had a tight community and already loved the opportunities we had to work under John and Beth, but now we have friends in the same stage of life with kids at similar ages moving to work with all of us. We love the Hendrick Family.  It might sound like some stupid mutual admiration society ... And I willingly risk sounding that way in order to share our thankfulness.  The times we've been able to get our two families together have been so fabulous and fun. Yesterday we met to go over the teacher application stuff and all of a sudden we'd spent 8 hours talking and having a blast and it felt like we'd just sat down. We're so grateful for this gift.  We know there was just as good of a chance we'd all find each other totally annoying and unlikable. Or, maybe the husbands like each other but the wives don't. What are the chances of two random families with loads of kids being plopped together and clicking well and even loving each other? We don't know what sorts of prayers and petitions went up surrounding the specific matching of full-time staff/resident expats at Heartline but we're guessing some did.  We are grateful.

Working together in community in an intense place like PAP isn't always going to be fabulous.  Certain stressful situations put us at huge risk for problems.  Stuff is going to happen and conflict will come. Will you pray that when those times and situations arise that all of us will "be ready to forgive and grow together in repentance and brokenness" ?  

I know without a doubt, that is what we all long for.