Encouragement

If you have been listening in on the missions conversation as of late, you know that there has been much debate ever the value of sending short term mission teams into a cross cultural context.  I don’t want to have that debate here, but one thing I can say about our first experience in receiving a team…it encouraged us.

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Not only has Matthew been going to school in Johannesburg, but he has also been making friends and getting involved.  His church, Keystone Church, put together a small team and came to visit the farm. (check the link to Keystone on our “connect” page)

The eight team members (plus a few missional kids!) set out to build a play set for the school and host a VBS style program for the children.

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Despite unbearable heat and cramped quarters, the team was a blessing to us, the school and the kids.  We are so thankful that they came.

What I take away from this experience is that it is so very encouraging to have people visit and share in what you are doing.  Truthfully, as Rob and I go to-and-from-day-after-day to work…it can seem just that…work.  An ordinary job.  Something we can do anywhere, anytime, but having these people visit gave us fresh eyes.  We are reminded of how we felt when we first visited, overwhelmed with the beauty of Swaziland and the richness that comes from knowing that children who were once vulnerable and at risk are now safe and thriving.

New Life Homes is doing good and glorifying God by participating in the loving care of HIS children.  Swaziland is stunningly beautiful and the people are kind, warm and always smiling.  And we, the Taylors, are all the richer for having been here.

Thank you Keystone, for bringing the encouragement.

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Here’s another story….

This is an old story.  This all happened several months ago, but still I think about it, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

I have a favorite sweater.  You can see I am wearing it in the photo.  Rob took this shot one day when we were in Johannesburg for who-knows-what a long time ago.

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No, I am not selling the car.

And, no, we do not have a car like this… or anything driving in the same stratosphere.  No. our car isn’t even close, but this story is not about cars, it is about the sweater.  My favorite one.  I know that it isn’t all that fashionable.  I look more like I am going camping than going to town, but it is a nice, quality sweater and I spent more than I normally would…I wanted a good sweater to last the 3 or 4 days a year when it gets cold here.

I LOVE that sweater.

There is a section of our drive up to the Farm where typically, all the children walking to school are waving and jumping up and down to greet us.  We are just driving… passing by on our way to work, but we wave back and we all have a good time.

One day, our windows were down and a kid threw a rock at the car.

The rock went into the car on the driver’s side, crossed over Rob and hit me.  It did not hurt either of us nor did it do any damage whatsoever, but it did scare the heck out of both of us.

Rob slammed on the brakes and the kids all scattered.  He put the car in reverse and was going to “talk” to the kids about throwing rocks at cars.  When he came to a stop, the kid who threw the rock was on my side of the car, so I jumped out and firmly said, “NO. Don’t throw rocks.”  I got back in and off we went.

Guess what was in my lap?  My sweater.

Of course, I didn’t realize it until we were at the Farm…. 25 kilometers away.

Really?  Did it have to be my favorite sweater?  Why couldn’t it have been the $15 not-my-favorite-color-but-it-is-cheap sweater?  I suppose one could remain hopeful that we would find it waded up in a ball on the side of the road, but no such luck.

We diligently searched for the days following, looking at what everyone was wearing, to see if we could spot the sweater.  I don’t know what we would have done if we saw it.  Are we really going to strut our way up to someone who lives in a mud hut and hauls water and demand that they give back the sweater?

After all, these people need it more than I.

But I love that sweater and I cannot get one like it here.  Besides that, I felt a little bit jipped…after all it is mine, and someone took it!

We were surprised to see that the children walking to school we still waving and jumping up and down for us in the mornings.  We kind of wondered if our “relationship” had been damaged by the sweater incident.  I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely over it, but I was glad that they all were glad to see us.

About a week later, there he was… the kid that threw the rock.

And there he was, standing at the edge of the road holding out my sweater.

A sweet peace offering of friendship and honesty.

He brought to me an encouragement that day, beyond description, and we don’t share enough of the same language for me to express it.  We have to go on faith that the thankfulness I felt that morning was evident, and he can walk away knowing in his heart that he did the right thing and he did it despite his need or want for himself.

Contrast that with my feeling “jipped.”

I pray, Lord I pray, that my thankfulness was an encouragement to that kid.

Do we encourage each other enough?  We are brothers and sisters in Christ… do we sense that?

When is the last time someone said or did something for you that really encouraged you?

The kind of encouragement that spurs you on to keep going with a hard thing.

The better question is when is the last time you gave someone heart-felt encouragement to keep going?

I wonder if we take the easier roads of life because we lack encouragement.  Self-doubt sets in and we fall prey to the criticisms of the difficult people in our lives, turning our self-talk into darts of “can’t do it.”  We settle in and we, well… just plain settle.

I am not going to lie.  Living here is hard.  There are some great things about living in Swaziland for sure, but it is still hard.  We are away from family, friends, and normal, and there are plenty of days where you just want “normal.”

Also know that I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

But I see now more than ever, how encouragement and discouragement can play a major role in missions.  And in work, and in relationships, and in living a full life, and in…..

Whoever the Lord has put in front of you today, encourage them.  1Thess 5:11-14.

Love, Jennifer

PS.  A Taylor support-raising campaign is on the horizon!  With un-anticipated expenses and another child on his way to school in 2014, it is time for us to dive in!  More details to follow, but in the meantime, please consider how you might be involved.  We would love to share this ministry with you, your group, a friend or your church.  And as always… prayer support is a must.  Please pray for us and our financial needs.  Thank you!

Our sending agency is THE ANTIOCH PARTNERS please jump over to their new website…it is beautiful!

And don’t forget to check out our “connect” page to see how you can get involved and… PHOTOS!  A link to our photos at the Picasa website can also be found on the “connect” page.

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4 thoughts on “Encouragement

  1. Rob and Jennifer, Thank you. Your words were an encouragement to me today. (Jennifer, I’m the garage sale person who bought your mother’s picture, which I still love 🙂 I sometimes get so caught up in my own day-to-day activities that I forget to be thankful for a life of relative ease and comfort. I appreciate all that you are doing, and thank God that there are people like you in the world. You are in my prayers.

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    • Arta… I remember the sale! It blessed me to have you go home with mom’s work, because I knew it would encourage her. I guess encouragement extends beyond even our own understanding…awesome. Thanks Arta.

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  2. These words are encouraging to me, here in Gig Harbor, so I can imagine how they are so helpful to you. Thanks for sharing. Keep the faith! I thank you for serving the Lord in this way.

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