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.” (Good plan.)

And then Tom happened.

But first the back story!  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 the heck 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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!

WRFusion update Country #1, Update #1 (or Blue Sky Needed)

IMG_6264Saturday morning, January 3

Tim and I are on the way to Thailand via Shanghai. As in Shanghai, China.

I am sitting in the lobby listening to Tim trying to communicate with the hotel personnel who speaks  “a little” English (said while holding their fingers in tiny-mode.)   I also hear the tinkling of 42 million glass thingies that are hanging from the massive chandelier. If I let allowed myself it could put me back to sleep.  We are 12 hours ahead of Atlanta.

We soon leave the lobby and get into our shuttle and wait.  Again.  This time I sit and watch as an older Chinese man (ok, he’s about my age) pulls out a thick hand duster from a plastic case that has been hidden in the trunk of a black Mercedes. He then begins the arduous task of wiping off the fog-dust from the entirety of the high-end car while three businessmen look on.  (My confusion begins to set in as I ponder: “I thought this was a communist country…”)  IMG_6269

The fog-dust is everywhere since fog is everywhere.  As we leave to return to the airport I notice that many people have on smog-masks (we also had some provided for us in our hotel.  However, we left them behind!) The smog (fog-dust) is so profound but the people seem as accustomed to it as we are to the humidity in the south.  The sun is shining, but cannot break through.  I am suddenly aware of how much I miss the BLUE…and how sorry I am that the Shanghai-ians miss it everyday.IMG_6274

We are waking up to our first full day of many days to come this year as coaches for the very first World Race Fusion squad. This squad is composed of 23 young adults (Racers) from three different countries–most of whom are presently on a nine hour bus ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai Thailand where all of us will be  for the next two weeks. Tim and I will help (a little) with their training and then launch them into their first of eleven ministry sites for the next 11 months.

Our job, as coaches, is to fly every other month to meet the Racers  (in the particular country they will be in at the time) simply to encourage them and prod them on as they journey with each other during 2015.  Each of our 4-5 jaunts will last about a week.  HOW FUN IS THAT for 2015!?

My goal is to document this journey or at least a few of the quirky happenings, during our 2015 venture.

Update #2 to follow quickly. (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise–I don’t reckon they say that ’round here….)