Thursday, February 20, 2014

Delightful Deputation (Part 5) The Facility for Training

Delightful Deputation (Part 1) The Focus
Delightful Deputation (Part 2) The Family
Delightful Deputation (Part 3) The Fun
Delightful Deputation (Part 4) The Friendships

We were on deputation. We entered the church where we were scheduled to present, and we set up our display.  We were ready. We looked sharp. Boys in ties and suits. Girls in lovely long skirts and nice blouses. I think I was even having a fabulous hair day that day. We greeted people as they entered the church. Smiles all around...

Until someone walked up and said, "Oh, by the way, are you ready to teach that class?"

Five minutes before "the class" we found out we were teaching "the class."

Now in American culture, it is customary to give at least three weeks notice for anything... in writing. Anything less than that is appalling and offensive. (Yes, I am exaggerating, but not much.)

This wasn't the only time this happened either. There were many times I had to be ready on the spot to sing, give a testimony, teach a class, and assist in any ministry that the pastor or church needed.

If you know anything about me, I am schedule driven. I love calendars and dayplanners and color-coded schedules of all shapes and sizes. Schedule changes with less than three days notice cause indigestion.

But God used deputation to help me trust Him with the impossible... giving Him my schedule even down to the last second.  He trained me to be ready for anything.

Now, I am not sure if that was the intent of the churches that only gave us on-the-spot notice, but God wasn't shocked. The more I practiced being ready for anything, the more comfortable I became with it. Toward the end of deputation, I had learned to pop right out of the pew with a smile the moment my name was called for any reason.

I also had to loosen my grip on my homeschool schedule, children's nap schedule, and more!

How does that help me on the field? Many cultures give no notice. They don't plan ahead. They live day by day. They don't call before visiting. That's not in their culture! Here, homes should always be open for friends and neighbors. For me to survive mentally and emotionally in that sort of culture, God had to forcefully unplug me from my calendar comfort zone.

Deputation taught me flexibility and preparation in so many other areas, too.

I learned that I can really survive without so many of the niceties I had in my home in America. I didn't have them on deputation, so apparently I can live without them on the field, too.

I had to learn to cook differently on the road. That certainly laid the groundwork for me to learn how to cook differently here. I had to learn to make do with what was available. Whining about what I didn't have solved nothing! And the same thing is true on the field. I learned to shop at stores I was unfamiliar with... and let's just say that's a way of life here!

While we were on deputation, we visited churches who did things differently, had different ministries, different standards, different hymn books... everything was different. We had to learn to adapt, as well as where to draw the line when things were unbiblically different. There were other differences we could overlook with a smile because it was simply respecting Christian liberty.  We also gained some great ministry ideas and perspectives from some of the churches. We had to unplug from the thinking that different means bad. Different may be good, or it may not be. It helped us to examine why we do or do not do certain things and compare it with Scripture. Do we face those things on the field? Oh boy, do we ever!

During deputation, our children faced being the minority in church for the first time when we visited a Filipino church. We loved it, but it took a little adjusting for one of the children. He was so afraid of offending them by doing something against their culture. He cried and cried! I just kept encouraging him that the people understood he wasn't Filipino, but they were happy to help him learn about their culture if he was willing to listen. By the time our visit was over though, he was declaring how much he loved the Filipino people because they were so kind. "Mom! That guy was just like me! He was so fun!" Deputation broke down the walls of fear for him. Did that help his adjustment to life here? Oh, yes!

Yes, during deputation we learned to live in less than ideal living spaces, and to do it with a smile. We stayed in a couple of places that were not very clean or sanitary. (I will leave out a few details of the creepy crawly things.) We just kept telling ourselves, "If we cannot handle it in America, how will we handle it in a third world country?"

We learned to be frugal more than ever before. After all, we didn't have a guaranteed paycheck coming in. Deputation brought a whole new level of trust in the Lord in the area of finances and God's provision. I don't even need to tell you that this lesson has helped on the field.

We learned endurance physically and emotionally on deputation. We learned how to push past exhaustion and keep moving forward.

The list goes on and on of the things we learned on deputation. As deputation missionaries, the road was our classroom and God was teaching us lessons for life.

So now we can complete our new definition of deputation:

Pre-field Ministry

An Opportunity to Grow Closer as a Family

An Opportunity for Education, Exploration, and Adventure

Time to Meet the Supporting Church FAMILY and Bond

Stepping into God's Classroom to Prepare for the Field

Coming up...
The Naked Truth About Deputation

By Charity, Southern Asia


Lou Ann Keiser said...

Wow! Love your take on the improvisations of deputation! I tend to be one who wants things planned and rehearsed, and so much of what we did was unrehearsed. I tried to always have one or two studies for women ready and one or two lessons for children. Then, we were asked to do things way out of our gifts and comfort range. Life is a riot, and it's a learning experience. Thanks for sharing in such a positive way. God bless you!

Rosa B. said...

Thank you for your posts on deputation! You put it into words so well!

Alisha said...

Lou Ann, would you mind sharing some ideas of what you would teach for children's classes or for ladies? We are heading into deputation next month and would like to be prepared. Thank you!!!