Thursday, August 27, 2015

Doorbells, Mailboxes and Water Fountains

     This past June I faced the unique experience of traveling to the U.S. twice in one month! Dates and commitments worked out in such a way that, after over a year of not visiting the U.S., I made both a personal and a ministry motivated trip within a week of one another!
     These back-to-back experiences, the activities in which I engaged, the people with whom I traveled and the amount of time spent in the U.S. led to some interesting feelings, challenges, blessings and lessons!

      For the first trip, (Lord willing I can share about the second trip another time), was a personal trip to Florida on which our three biological children accompanied me, which represented the first time I have traveled with just the three of them ever! The legal status of our other children makes it impossible for them to travel outside of Mexico and, not wanting to emphasize that difference, we had never made such a trip before. Time and circumstances, the Lord's peace and His provision, provided the opportunity to visit my parents in their new retirement location near my brother's place in Florida. What a joy to experience Grandpa and Grandma's (Dave and Diann Claassen's) new home, visit Uncle Dan and Aunt Teri and cousins, as well as have so many great experiences with Josiah, Caleb and Ruth; but, just as my heart rejoiced as I sat at the Mexico City airport waiting for our flight to Tampa, my heart broke by not having the opportunity to experience those same joys with ALL of my children!  Can't wait for borders, no passports, no visas, no guardianship papers!

      Despite the fact that Grandpa and Grandma live quite close to Disney World, we didn't even need to visit there because doorbells, mailboxes and water fountains provided more than sufficient entertainment!

     You see, several of those apparatuses, while they may exist in urban areas in Mexico, do not have a use where we live! Doorbells? Due to the warm climate (rarely ever below 50 degrees Farenheit nor above 75 degrees Farenheit), our doors stand open most of the day! Since we live on the top of a hill, we can see, and hear, visitors driving up the road long before they can even see the house! No doorbells for us!  (Unless our two Saint Bernards count as doorbells...they certainly advise us of any visitors!) 

     However, Caleb became fascinated with Grandpa and Grandma's doorbell! Every time, and I mean every time, he left the house he would ring the doorbell before coming back in! He even started going outside just so he could ring the doorbell!  Eventually, whenever the doorbell rang, my mom and I would look at each other, laugh and say, “It's Caleb!”

Caleb in front of Grandpa and Grandma's house...ready to the ring the doorbell!
     Mailboxes? Here in Mexico our mailman comes directly to our home, on a motorcycle, only when we have mail...which is usually once a month when our phone bill arrives! Ruth loved Grandpa and Grandma's mailbox! Most days we would go someplace as a a park, to the zoo, to the store, but, as soon as we would get home, Ruth would make a beeline to the mailbox! She became especially excited when Grandma asked her to mail a letter and explained about raising the little red flag!

Josiah riding bike in front of Grandpa and Grandma's house...and I see a mailbox!
     Water fountains? These definitely do not exist in Mexico as the water is not generally safe to drink. So, everywhere we go we have to take along water bottles. With a family of 20, that results in a lot of water bottles! Josiah found it a relief, and rather fascinating, that we didn't take along water bottles because there would be water the store, in the park, at the zoo, at church, in the library! We all knew that wherever we were, Josiah would scout out the nearest water fountain....and be sure to try it out!

Water fountain time!
     My heart ached with a certain melancholy, a certain longing, a certain sadness, yet a certain entertainment and joy to watch my kids be thoroughly enraptured by doorbells, mailboxes and water fountains....three items that formed such a normal part of my growing up that I never even gave them any thought!

     Those three items became symbols to me of the “left behind” as a result of obediently following God's call on my life to Mexico. As a parent, part of raising kids is sharing with them things that formed a part of who you were as a child and young person. Watching my kids' fascination with doorbells, mailboxes and water fountains, I had to come face to face with how different their lives are compared to my life at their age...not bad, just really different! Heck...they speak two languages and love hot sauce...two things I didn't know existed until I was 16!

     I would never, ever consider not following God's purposes for my life, nor regret having done so, just to have a doorbell, a mailbox and some water fountains around. However, those funny little things did cause a tinge of nostalgia in my heart (not to mention the bike riding around the block!).

     I wonder if Jesus ever felt nostalgia? Did anything here on earth ever remind him of streets of gold, or angels' voices or living among the cosmos....that He created? Did Jesus ever miss the throne or His Father's immediate presence? Did he ever tire of dusty feet or a grumbly tummy that required sustenance several times a day, rather than His self-sustaining Heavenly existence?

     I don't know. But, I think I can come to the conclusion that if we are to obey Almighty God's purposes, if we desire to be used to shine His light among others' darkness, if we hope to live a life that goes beyond our breathing years on this planet, then we might have to give up doorbells, mailboxes and water fountains, or maybe even streets of gold and angelic choruses'.

     Is Jesus calling you to give up any of  your own doorbells, mailboxes or water fountains?  

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!"
Philippians 2:5-8