Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Author: Cynthia (Page 1 of 11)

Prophets & Prayers

I’m currently reading through a Chronological Bible in everyday language. I have no idea why I’ve never done this before, because it is amazing! I am currently reading through the kings and the prophets. With a better understanding of the context I have a totally different understanding of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. And maybe beyond the context of understanding Israel’s situation, I am deeply affected by the Reality in Venezuela these days. It’s a good mix.

Jeremiah was called by God to preach truth to a nation that was worshiping idols, a nation that was full of greed and evil and injustice. God warned Jeremiah that the people would not listen, but still he was to preach. Jeremiah preached in the temple and at the city gates, and the reward he earned for his preaching was imprisonment. This morning I read about Jeremiah meeting with the Rekabites and offering them wine, which they refused. And why? Because their ancestor had passed down the laws of God to them and taught them and they had obeyed. Because of their obedience they were blessed.

And though this is not a clear parallel with what is happening in Venezuela, there are similarities. There are clear indications that leaders of this country have turned from God and injustice is rampant. Yet, like the Rekabites in Judah of old, there is a remnant that is strong and growing stronger. Prayer, specifically intercessory prayer, is on the rise in Venezuela. The church is a high point in many areas, and children particularly are coming to faith. The Gospel is falling on good ground in many people’s hearts.

And for those of us outside the chaos and turmoil, there is real opportunity to invest in eternity. Food, medicine, nor clothing get us to heaven, but where the church ministers these things in the name of Jesus, it is blessed. In fact, we are promised that what we do for the least of these we do for Him.

Reality in Venezuela

I’ve been trying to get a handle on reality in Venezuela lately, and this week I got some information that has floored me. The realities that people live with are very diverse, much like the differences we see between a high level executive in a gated community and a single mom on welfare in our country. However, the following information helped me better understand the “middle class” reality in Venezuela. Consider this for a moment:

A teacher in one town in Venezuela currently earns $3.27 for a month of full time work teaching. In addition to that, he gets a stipend for food, which is about $4.51. That is a total income for the month of $7.78.

You may think that prices are just decidedly cheaper there, and you’d be right. But the following is enlightening.  Keep in mind that I am only dealing with food prices here, which does not take into account the harsher realities of paying rent, costs of transportation,  paying utilities, or purchasing paper goods like toilet paper.

Consider these prices if this were you going to the grocery store. (These prices are from last week, and with an inflation rate of 1000%, things change rapidly.)

Beef — $.93 per pound

Chicken — $.94 per pound

Eggs — $.88 per dozen

Rice — $.44 per pound

Bread — $.66 per loaf

Sugar — $.63 per pound

This is staggering, folks. Imagine getting your paycheck of $7.78 and going to the grocery store to buy a week’s worth of groceries. If you were only purchasing food with your money, you’d have just under $2 to buy groceries for whoever your paycheck is supposed to support. Two dollars, one week. You could purchase the following for this week:

One dozen eggs

One pound of rice

One loaf of bread

In fact, in order to purchase these 3 items you’d have to have a little money set aside from last week. We’re not talking about supper food for tonight, but food for a week for your family.

Want to better understand reality? These are cash prices, and your pay is deposited into your bank account. However, fewer and fewer stores accept debit cards and getting cash from the bank is an ordeal. By an ordeal I mean a minimum of  4 hours of waiting in line, and sometimes that results in being told the cash is gone. On a great day you might be able to withdraw $.25. Yes, a quarter. For four hours of waiting. On many days you would only get 8 cents. And if you’re standing in line at the bank, which is only open maybe 8-5, how can you teach? And how can you ever get your money if you’re teaching full time?

The economic implications are staggering. The need is real. There are ways to help. Contact me if you want more info.

My heart is with Venezuela in a special way because I was born and raised there. Yours may be pulled differently, but I believe most of us can find someone who needs some of what we have. There is a special reward when we pass things on, a natural multiplication when we share. It’s a privilege, and one we may not always have.

These realities in Venezuela remind me of the advice I once got from a friend, “If it were me, I would give what I could. After all, tomorrow it might be me asking for help to get the basics.”

Preconceptions

I noticed a slightly older guy working the desk several months ago. It wasn’t a good job, really, and I wondered why he was there. He looked like he’d spent his life body building and I surmised it might be a job that fit his ego. The tattoos that covered his arms made me wonder where life had taken him. I didn’t talk to him, though: I didn’t need to. There was something in his bearing that didn’t match my perception that maybe he was a guy who just hadn’t grown up, but I didn’t stop to think it through. I moved on to the next task, the next person, the next problem.

2017 photos - 1259 of 1317My son also frequented the business and he talked to the man. He heard his story, a story nothing like the one I’d made up in my mind. A dedicated military man, he’s been on a lot of missions in dangerous places. In fact, he was involved in rescuing some missionaries years ago. He pursued dangerous people through dangerous jungles. He led a group of men who depended on him. He saw war and death up close. He succeeded at his missions and came home to America.

What he’d experienced haunted him and PTSD stalked him as he did his best to settle into “normal”. He has a wife and a child and is determined to grow a healthy family. Still, the discrepancy between his past and his present is large: he chose this job because he could. He wants to forget the trauma and help people. And he does.

The next time I saw him behind the desk, he didn’t look like a guy who hadn’t grown up. He looked like a hero. And he is. He is quietly paying a price for us, the people who live in a semblance of safety because of sacrifices he and others like him made and make. I haven’t asked him, but I can imagine that the hardest things he’s done may not be the heroics on foreign soil but facing the prejudice of people he serves as he sits behind that desk, people like me who have preconceived ideas and misconceptions.

It’s a lesson I seem to have to learn and relearn: things are not always how they seem and people are not always who they appear to be. I’ve once more decided to simply treat everyone like the hero they may very well be. If I’m wrong, at least I’m a good kind of wrong.

Day One and Simplicity

It’s already the second week of January, and I’m still thinking it’s “Day One.” Well, I realize it is not technically Day One, but the concept keeps catching me. Matthew West’s song runs through my head, particularly the lines, “It’s Day One of the rest of my life, I’m marching on to the beat of a brand new drum”.

Day One, it’s reflective of the simplicity I am focusing on this year. To me it’s a mentality that leaves the past behind while moving on. It’s realizing that I don’t have to replay yesterday’s conversations AGAIN, that I don’t need to reevaluate my productivity AGAIN, and that I don’t need to live in regret. The past is done. If something that happened demands I offer an apology or suggests I make a change, I do that now. Then I leave the past behind and take the lessons I learned to move forward in this moment.

Day One. A brand new start, a chance to move forward in what God is calling me to right now. A chance to make new friends or connect with old friends. An opportunity to start a project or finish one. A clean slate that doesn’t demand I work around what I’ve started but allows me to write what’s on my mind. It’s freeing, living in this moment, starting from now, focusing on the one thing that’s in front of me. Day One is simple.

Day One. It’s extravagant to begin again. Frugality demands I hang on to what I have and make the most of what was instead of investing in something new. Extravagance erases the old and comes up with a brand new plan. Extravagance enjoys this moment without worrying about the one that preceded it or the one that will follow. Extravagance means I am free to be the person I have become through the lessons I’ve learned without doing penance for the past or worrying about the future.

Day One. An extravagant view of grace and mercy, freely accepting and offering forgiveness without trying to extract payment. Hope that what I’ve been promised will come to pass. Faith that investing in this moment does not demand that I keep replaying my efforts or worrying about the outcome.

Today I choose to live “Day One”, the Simple Extravagance of a new beginning that will bear good fruit.

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