Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hosting Angels Unawares

There is a definite ebb and flow to life on the island. Something like the waves of the looming lake, which lap the shores or sometimes rock the boat.

My absence here is because life has been "flowing" a bit faster lately with activities at the school, but also in hosting visitors at SHIM.

Regina, Dr. Terry's dear wife, spends quality time with David and Johnathan.

Each year, we host between 40-50 people at our ministry compound. Some come for a night, others come for several weeks or several months.

I still find it amazing how our small island attracts people from all over the United States and around the world. Is it the peacefulness? The ministry? The island people? The banana pancakes? :) (As the breakfast chef, one of my favorite foods to prepare for guests is the ever-popular banana pancakes. ;) Or is it a combination of all of the above? Maybe.

But I think God does something in the hearts of people who willingly cross lands and oceans to visit a remote island - to witness the work God is doing there. And as they witness, or better yet, become involved, they invest their hearts. And where your heart is, there your treasure is and vice versa.

Once you've given your heart to a place and people - you are often drawn to return.

Such is the case with Claudia, a neuroscience major, who returned this month for her third consecutive year. Dr. Terry, a S.C. professor of social work, has made seven trips to Lingira, over the same number of years. This year, four members of his dear family joined him, including three who had also visited in 2010.

Advising the SHIM staff in setting "measurable outcomes" is Dr. Terry, back.

For some, they are "newbies." Last week, 15 people from the Mercy for Mamas organization spent a packed 24 hours on the island - teaching and encouraging women in two island villages and conducting pre-natal clinics.

Delaney, a math major, is dedicating her summer to building meaningful relationships on the island, and seeing how she can encourage the local teachers and students in their grasp of math skills - one of the more challenging subjects for our rural youth.

With a degree in visual media, Dr. Terry's oldest son, Matthew, spent much of his days filming and taking photos of our dairy project for a soon-to-be-released short film.

His wife, Bailey, an occupational therapist, spent quality time with some of the more needy, vulnerable, and often-neglected of the island - the children with special needs. She worked one-on-one with several and was instrumental in helping to form a much-needed support group for the parents of these little ones.

Delaney and I watching the US vs. Germany World Cup game.

Time and space do not allow me to share all of the ways our visitors have blessed us at SHIM, but especially those of the islands. They have helped to lighten burdens, brought joy and encouragement with listening ears, kind words, new stories and plenty of fodder for laughter. They have helped us see and fill in "gaps" in the ministry, some of which we lack time or energy for, or the right skill sets.

I personally have been encouraged and incredibly blessed by such dear people who give of themselves in substantial and sacrificial ways. I have truly met amazing people and built special friendships among them.

Each person and team that visits brings their own perspectives, skills, heart passions, backgrounds, and goals. But each makes an impact, and God, in His glorious sovereignty, weaves it all together in the continuing story He is writing of the islands.

The islands and their people were created to sing His praises and I am so thankful for the many and diverse people He draws here to "teach us to sing"!

The Mercy for Mamas team heads back to the mainland after their island visit.

"Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

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