Original journal entry date: Saturday April 1, 2017
Preface: When I started this blog, I agreed to the terms the Lord was setting before me: that I would be transparent about our life. I’ve read many, many missionary biographies over the years, most of them several times, and the ones which instruct me the most are those who deliberately choose to be frank about faults and failings, disasters and tragedies, you know, the normal ups and downs we all experience. One well known missionary writer strictly chose to not write about her failings and struggles as she felt it was not edifying. That was her personal choice but oh, how I wish she had seen it differently. I need to know how you made it through, not just that you did. I need to hear of your growing pains and the things which most helped as you struggled to stay faithful and glorifying to our Lord during the darker times of missionary work. This post is one which would be easy to not give you; it’s far too revealing. But the thread of humor in it helps to show how gracious the Lord is with me even as I’m failing horribly. I hope you laugh; I did. But I also pray it might help you in your own struggles to grow and be pleasing to our Lord.
Even as the first pancake went flying, “Be ye angry and sin not” (Eph 4:26) flashed through my head. Oh I was for sure enough angry and though it wasn’t directed toward anyone that’s no excuse; sin is still sin and at that moment I did not feel like curbing it. Left to fester, it would soon come out at someone.
Another pancake … sent unceremoniously across the room.
Stephen had bought bananas on Wednesday. Way too many of them. Intentionally. He hoped I would freeze another jumbo batch of banana pancakes. How can I refuse when he really asks so little of me? After my slow morning gave way to feeling better, I figured I was up to the task. It seemed a pleasant change to have some kitchen duty which I really do miss when the studio work dominates all else. And it should have worked but for one small detail … my remaining #10-size can of “Bisquick” type pancake mix was bulging. Seriously bulging. The can fairly well exploded as I sunk the blade of the can opener into the top, spraying dry powder all over the place. I did at least have foresight enough to have taken it out onto the veranda but still, what a mess!
Desperately, I forged ahead and mixed up a triple batch. My melt down wasn’t pretty. The mix had lost all of its oomph (sprayed across the veranda in a pre-explosion white plume). They were like lead sinkers. Just horrid. It ended with me crying and furiously flipping the pancakes from the electric frying pan across the kitchen with the vague thought that they might land in the sink. Some did. I think I’m still missing a couple. A few utensils went flying too.
“Be ye angry and sin not,” came the Word again. Then, I started chuckling. Yes, Lord. Your three-year-old is having a temper tantrum. I was reminded that it was okay to be angry, it’s a natural human response. But I can’t take my anger to the point of sin; I need to check it once it’s released, not allow it to continue spewing and stewing.
It wasn’t the pancakes. It was a build up of other things. This is just where the emotions took flight. Just this morning when I was praying on the veranda, I told the Lord, as I was looking on the burned mango trees, the grass-hopper eaten cabbage, the weed infested garden, the many needed repairs … all of the other perceived failures, that this place (Sierra Leone) just represents death to me. It was an accumulation of failure, corruption, sickness, and the inability to help any of it. That’s all I was able to see. And now, no pancakes for my darling.
The Lord and I quietly worked things out while I washed dishes, cleaned up splatters of unleavened goop, and hunted down missing pancakes. Sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but getting it out and at the throne of grace.
Back on the veranda and vented of my discouragement, the Lord then sweetly reminded me of all the wonderful blessings of our small, remote place in his great, wide world.
Post Script: No great loss, the dogs happily ate the triple batch of banana pancakes mixed with their dog food.