Dear Ava, Part 2

I hope the first week of 4th grade went well for you!  Last week, I started a letter to you in response to your request that I show you how to be a missionary.  It was getting pretty long, so here is another installment of my thoughts for you. Just as a reminder, none of these things make you special or different or holy, right?  They are just tools that the Lord can use to teach you about Himself and yourself and the world around you.

Try. Trying means that you are doing something new, getting out of the space where you feel comfortable. I have written about discomfort before as an essential part of education, but this is definitely essential for the person who wants to be a missionary. If you go overseas, everything is different–food, climate, language, shopping, even how you say “Hello” to someone. If you only do what is comfortable to you, then you will never be able to live there.

Try new foods. I know sometimes that can be scary, especially with allergies. But it is really good to recognize that even our food issues are from our God and can be used to both change our hearts to be more like Jesus and to direct us where He would have us to go. I will never forget the my student who had Celiac disease, and she wanted to go on a missions trip.  Where could she go that she could find food to eat?  She really wanted to go to Ireland, and when we started looking into it, wouldn’t you know that there are more people in Ireland with celiac than anywhere else in the world!  That was a perfect fit!

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Try a new genre of books. Learn a dance from another country. Join a sport even though you’re not good at it. Watch a movie from a different country, like Lagaan, my favorite foreign film pictured above (Now streaming on Netflix!!) #AlwaysLearning!

Write. The next piece of advice I would give you is to write things down–to others and for yourself. Get a penpal who is a missionary kid. Write a letter to the missionaries your family supports. Keep a journal of things that you are learning about yourself and about the world and about your God. Write down the prayers that you pray. These writings will serve as a reminder of your growth in God’s kindness in your life over the years. You will have days as a missionary (as does simply everyone) when you are lonely or sad or people disappoint you, and being able to go back and see how faithful God has been over the years will remind you that He is always faithful, even when life doesn’t seem good.

Serve. Serve in every way that you can– now. Think of your life in terms of circles of influence.  Home is your closest circle, right?  How do you serve your mom or your sisters?  What can you do that will bless your Dad?

The next circle around you is your church.  Is there a way that you can serve there?  Setting up chairs?  Making copies for the Sunday School teachers?  Cutting out craft supplies?img_0716

And then there is school, or for your older friends reading this, work.  Can you be helpful to the teacher?  Help the new kid navigate the cafeteria?  Say something kind to the girl who looks like she is lonely?

Other circles include your community, your region, your country, and then the world.  Faithfulness in serving in your closest circles prepares you for faithfulness in serving in the circles farthest away. Faithfulness doesn’t just happen–like tree rings, faithfulness is layered one year after another, after another, after. . .

I’m not quite done, Ava.  There is still one more post to come, but I need to stop there tonight.  Til later, friend!

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