I didn’t wanna do it

IMG_8850IMG_8854Nothing inside of me wanted to do it.  Nothing.  The only reason I discreetly slipped into my bathing suit was so I could later ease into the water and eventually brag, “I swam in a volcano crater lake.” 

And then Tom happened.

I have to back up a bit:  During 2015 my husband and I have been coaching the World Race Fusion Squad.  This is a squad of 23 Racers who embarked on an 11 month/11 country mission trip back in January. Every few months we jet to wherever they are for their debrief.

A debrief is where we spend 4-5 days simply encouraging each of the Racers via hanging out, drinking coffee, hugging, laughing, listening, crying, talking–you get the idea.  It’s a great job.

At the end of August we flew to Nicaragua.  This time, though, we went early to help the Racers host a five-day visit from their parents (the Parent Vision Trip).  Now their parents hadn’t seen their Racers for eight months, so we were really inconsequential for those few days.  All we did was tag along for the scheduled activities and chatted it up with parents.

On the day before the parents departure, we went to the Laguna De Apoyo, a deep crater lake–or, rather, an imploded volcano that filled with water!  It really is pretty amazing.

Now on this particular day several of us were seated at a laguna-side table with a fantastic view.  One of the racers, Kylene, slid next to me and whispered, “I am panicking.”

“Why?” I asked.

She quickly responded: “My dad wants to jump in the lagoon.

I quickly responded with glee:  “I think that’s great!!”

“NO! It’s not!!” she responded, not very gleefully.

“Why not?” She rolled her eyes at what seemed to be a ludicrous question. You see, her dad is Tom. Tom is legally blind. So she gave the obvious answer: “He might get hurt.” IMG_8823

I hesitated and then said, “Yes, he might.  But he wants to do it.” I turned to my seated comrades, “Hey ya’ll, Tom wants to jump in the water.  Let’s vote! If you think he should, raise your hand.” (All hands went up.)  “Then it’s decided.  Tom goes in.”

One of my lunch companions, Daniel, offered to jump in first to determine how far out he needed to jump.  Another one, Nathan, who happened to be a lifeguard in a former life,
offered to jump in with him.

I turned back to Kylene, Tom’s daughter and smiled, “then it’s all settled!  Your dad’s going swimming!

That news was not settling at all to her.IMG_8825

There were two platforms to jump from.  The tallest about 20 feet off the water, the other about 14 feet.  Tom opted for the latter. Daniel did the test ‘run and jump’ and then, with minor instructions, Tom and Nathan began to run.  The leap was picture perfect, the cheers were boisterous, and Tom’s grin was indescribable.IMG_8826

Kylene’s fears for her dad were valid.  She had seen her dad fall several times.  The former bank president began going blind only a few years prior and hated his red-tipped walking stick.  Therefore, he had walked full-face into more than one immovable structure and had been told by more than one stranger that he had blood on his forehead or running down his cheek.  She had not wanted it to happen one more time.  But today she wasIMG_8847 relieved. And proud–very proud.

And, unbeknownst to Tom, he was causing a ripple effect--no pun intended! First it was Joann.  Joann was fidgeting after Tom jumped in and then suddenly blurted out: “If he can do it, then I have no excuse!”  With that, she ripped off her hearing aid, grabbed her daughter’s hand and took off running!  More cheering!  IMG_8834

Then came a knowing glance as another couple, Rick and Carmen, stood up from their lounge chairs, took a deep breath and a few strides and then leapt.

Then, the first Racer called to me, “Hey, Mama K! When are you jumping in??”

I called back, “Uh, well, uh. I’m not a good swimmer.  I mean, I can hold my own, it’s just that I don’t like people to touch me in the water and I really don’t like drop offs and I have to hold my nose and…..”

I continued to ramble as the Racers ignored my weak reasoning.

Okay, the truth was that I was scared.  No really, I was scared.  I wasn’t scared of getting hurt necessarily.  I was scared of slipping before I even leapt and looking stupider than I felt.  And I was scared of looking dorky while I held my nose.  And I was scared of–well dang, nothing big.

And then there was Tom. Ugh.

“Okay.”

Kylene saying goodbye to her parents, Tom and Kelly.

I agreed to the lower 14′ platform that was increasing in elevation with every passing second.  My sweet husband agreed to jump with me (but not to touch me in the water).

I stood ready to run, but I was frozen. (Tom wasn’t frozen.) My husband said, “don’t think about it, JUST GO!”

I did.  I took the first step and the rest was easy.  Admittedly, it was actually fun.

Fear has made me miss too much.  But something in me shifted that day.

Thank you Tom, for helping me to see that I have unwittingly invented my own “red-tip stick” which I have been using as an excuse for resisting many adventures.  Thank you for helping me see.  

Really, thank you.

“I like my new job” World Race Fusion: Country #1, Entry #3

Tim and chatting this morning. Note my newest nose injury! Was it from: a) Thai kick boxing? b) Tim finally getting fed up with me? or c) Me trying to speed walk thru a glass door?

So, Tim and I discussed it this morning.  We officially LIKE our new job.  It is, by our definition, the best job in the world.  We get to go globe trotting with young adults.  We get to give and receive love.  And we get a front row seat to seeing lives (that want to be changed) being changed by God.

Pinch me.

One of our many group hugs! Seth Barnes, the founder of Adventures in Missions, is the recipient of this particular one!

Last July, when we were asked by Deon and Rynette to coach the first World Race Fusion squad, our response was, “what is Fusion?”  (They quickly explained that FUSION was the new name for the squads that are a PURPOSED MIX of young adult Racers from different countries.)  OURS is the first.  We have three Koreans, one English, and 19 americans…along with a four rather eclectic squad leaders.

Our first, of at least four jaunts across the globe this calendar year, has taken us to Chiang Mai, Thailand.  We have laughed harder than we have in years, accrued too many stories to tell, and have obtained some very strange injuries, that we can only add to our squad’s growing list.  We have taught our squad as needed and have had many beautiful conversations with individual racers.  And, we have shared some stunning times of worship that have only reminded me how eclectic God really is.

We are also seeing God work in some really unique ways in the Racers’ lives.  Many stories stand out, but I have only asked permission, thus far, to share one.  She said YES.

All through scripture we find God asking his followers to do some really odd things.  Does He still do that today?  Read Jen's story, if you dare!

All through scripture we find God asking his followers to do some really odd things. Does He still do that today? Read Jen’s story, if you dare!

Jen was born with a hearing loss.  During our training camp, God challenged Jen in a way that made me shudder when she told me about her encounter with Him through her tears.   Here is part of her story:

I was trying to earn my way to heaven with my “good deeds.” I got saved when I was 8 and have been striving to know God more and more and somewhere along the way I allowed this “climb the ladder” idea into my life. It was something that I had personally made a part of my identity without me ever knowing it.

To read the rest of it plase visit her recent blog post at http://jenniferboeve.theworldrace.org/?filename=when-god-says-to-wait

The end of her story has yet to be written.  She waits and we pray.

My favorite blogging spot

Tim and I leave tomorrow (Saturday) to go back to Atlanta and the cold weather.  I will miss blogging from this beautiful and warm spot in Chiang Mai. I will miss our 23 Racers and our squad leaders. But I have great anticipation for our unique journey’s with God over the coming year.

Thanks for reading!

“Burma is a country” World Race Fusion: Country #1, Entry #2

 

IMG_6325As many of you know, Tim and I have been in a rather isolated state  for about 2 years now. We are so thankful to God that he provided this opportunity for us to coach Adventures in Missions very first World Race FUSION team.

What sets this Fusion Team apart is that they intentionally fused racers from other countries into making this unique team. The plans are to try out some innovative things that, frankly, will evolve over the year.

We are both  giddy that God has opened this door for us to work with these 23 Races and their four squad leaders/mentor for this calendar year. We have already had a blast learning from, teaching to, and talking with all of the amazing people involved.  Everyone has made us feel welcomed and needed. We love our Racers already and look forward to investing in their lives .

Tim and I and our World Race Fusion squad have gotten an eclectic view of Chiang Mai, Thailand: the sounds (horns, vendor chatter), the sights (markets, massage parlors) and even the smells (street food, sewer, etc).

Thailand feels safe, well at least the parts that we are being exposed to.

If you wake up early enough (I haven’t) you get the see the Buddhist monks on their morning walks. If you stay up late enough (I have) you get to see the very young  prostitutes clumping by in their way-too-high heels. They “work” only a block away from Zion Café and hostel where our racers have been staying.  It is a quaint coffee shop/restaurant/hostel that is owned and operated by Emmi, a native Thailand woman who has a heart after the lost in her community.

But we have left Chiang Mai for several days and have driven only 45 minutes from the busy city. We are now somewhere in the mountains. When I asked Scott Kwak, our fearless leader, where we were going, he simply said, “the Free Burma Rangers retreat center.”IMG_6315

“Ok,” I thought, “a retreat center.” Because the rest of what he said made no sense. However, the phrase “free Burma Rangers” was about to forever alter the way I view what ‘ministry’ is.

Burma is a country (shoulda known that) that has been in a civil war for over 60 years. From what I pieced together, there are several indigenous tribes that are being bombed by their own government, leaving MANY families displaced. These people are called IDP’s (Indigenous Displaced People).

Burma is adjacent to Thailand. It is war torn. That is where David and Karen Eubanks come in. Upon our arrival here Tuesday morning we met this amazing couple as they were scurrying around trying to pack a few bags for a 2-month trip to Burma via China. David is an ex-army Ranger who loves God. Karen is his infectious wife who home schools their three children. Those two roles, however, only skim the surface of who they are. Because first and foremost, they ooze Jesus.

David is the founder of the FREE BURMA RANGERS. Here is the synopsis from their web page of what they do:

            The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement. They bring help, hope and love to people in the war zones of Burma. Ethnic pro-democracy groups send teams to FBR to be trained, supplied and sent into the areas under attack to provide emergency medical care, shelter, food, clothing and human rights documentation. The teams also operate a communication and information network inside Burma that provides real time information from areas under attack. – See more at: http://www.freeburmarangers.org/2010/10/28/free-burma-rangers/#sthash.gi5PtVKd.dpuf

 I could write pages about them and their ministry but instead, I encourage you to go visit their webpage. It is truly fascinating, and once again, I am in awe at my geographical ignorance and my embarrassingly small view of world current events.http://www.freeburmarangers.org

Thank you for praying for us, thank you for reading.  More adventures, pics and words to come!

Thanks for reading. More details later!