Saturday, August 30, 2008

Every Occasion an Opportunity

If you would have asked me in June what we do in Alaska during short-term mission trips, my answer would not have included “serve ethnobotanists.” Until recently, I didn’t know ethnobotany (the study of how people of a particular culture make use of indigenous plants) existed.

No one had told us that 15 scientists would be staying at the school with us. We quickly moved our food into a closet so that they could have full use of the kitchen. We had cleaned, swept and organized. We rearranged schedules to meet their needs. We invited them to our activities. After all, we might be the only Bible they ever read!

But I soon felt resentful. We hauled the water. People weren’t flushing and I was cleaning up. The kitchen was always a mess. They propped doors open with rocks. They left the stove on! Some of the scientists were openly frustrated – we were there, there was no water, it was rainy and cold.

Standing in the bathroom several days later, I looked at the overflowing trash and thought “I can either keep getting bitter or begin serving these people.” I let out a sigh and began cleaning.
If God wants me to be a custodian, than a custodian I will be.

As I served the scientists, I began enjoying them. I made small talk with the woman who had been rude to me. I gave my precious soap to one in need. Perhaps best of all, our family was able to prepare the team joining us from our church for serving our new friends. Had we held on to resentment, we could have “poisoned” the team and missed a unique serving opportunity.

We served our scientist friends meals, cleaned up after them, and shared our lives. When their Cook sheepishly asked for a Bible, a loving team member was quick to respond!

So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist(John 13:4). I had packed my towel to serve the Yup’ik people I love. But this year Jesus asked me to keep my towel on all the time and serve some scientists, too.

1 comment:

Sandy Toes said...

Thank you for your post...I think as women we all struggle with bitterness at times or the "poor me"...I sure do! It is hard...but I like how you handled it! What an unusual and exciting journey you are on!

Happy Labor Day!

-Sandy toes

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