Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Tag: community (Page 1 of 3)

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.

The Ladies

Today I remember how coffee and tea sat in front of us while conversation swirled between our lives and our thoughts. We fired questions and shared events and stories.  Conversation slowed as it moved toward the changes God was making in our hearts and asking us to make in our lives. Both the volume and the speed of the conversation fell as it got more personal. The book study had grown out of a desire for mentorship, and times together had grown a trust and openness between us that was simply good.

These are amazing young women, the kind of people every one of us wants to have as friends. I can’t believe that I’ve been privileged to walk life with them to the degree that I have. I can hardly believe that God has allowed me these times of fellowship and this insight into growth. I am humbled by the fact that they trust me with parts of their hearts and space in their journeys. I’ve enjoyed the fervor of youth. I’ve been reminded of the joys and challenges of the first year of married life as we’ve met. I’ve gained insights into life and faith. I’ve heard God stories and shared some. God has rebuked my lack of faith through them and reminded me who He is through our times together. These times are a good gift, given by the Father of Light.

It all began with a tentative, “Maybe just you and I could do coffee one day?” from Madison. We’d met her husband and his friend when he did some work in a house we were renting. We were new to town, missing our oldest son we’d left behind, and determined to step into life and relationships.  He and Madison were dating, and after a few conversations he asked if he could bring her with him so we could meet her. One introduction led to another, and we found ourselves with a few college-age friends that were willing to join us for an occasional supper. Over the next couple of years the guys married their girlfriends, some of the girls moved away, and we gained two young couple friends whose visits brightened our days.

We met for coffee soon after Madison’s question, and she asked if we could invite Jess and maybe do a study or something. Jess was barely back from her honeymoon the first time she joined us, and the group was three. Madison chose a book which we all enjoyed, then we chose another. I watched newly weds complete a year of marriage, then another. I grew and saw them grow. Life happened, and we met to discuss it. I knew they’d eventually move on to the next place, but it took me by surprise when I realized the date of their departure was within a few months.

As these ladies prepared to move on to the next place God called them to, I was reminded of my own journey and the many hard goodbyes I’ve said. I was excited for the next step in each of their journeys, but I knew I’d miss them. We said our goodbyes one sunny day, and still I miss them.

I’m thankful that God orchestrated our paths crossing, and that each of us chose to engage with one another. I’m reminded that opportunities don’t last forever, and God gives each of us specific opportunities for specific seasons. I know there will be other ladies in my life, but there won’t be another group like this one… I’m so thankful I enjoyed this season!

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: