Monday, April 8, 2013

Building Expectations

While in Jamaica, I have been focusing a good chunk of my time on building, primarily building homes for the homeless. But when the staff at Youth with a Mission Jamaica found out that I was also a cabinetmaker, they had told me about a home for a family serving here in need of kitchen cabinets. The question they asked: "can I build them cabinets?" I said yes, "if there are the proper tools."

Before we left the U.S. I had a list of the tools they had, and made my own checklist of tools that I would be needing to bring. When I asked about a table saw and they said "yes we have one," I was relieved. However, shortly after I arrived and surveyed the tool situation, I realized this was going to be hard. Not only had the tools seen better days, but the table saw was a tiny trim saw.

"What am I going to do?" This would take forever with the tools available here... So we started searching the island for better tools. It is not like the U.S. where you can run to Home Depot or Menards and pick up whatever you need. If you do find the tools you need, you can expect it to cost you about double. Yet we needed to search. We searched and searched. We were able to find some saws, but they were missing parts and weren't going to work for us.

"Okay, no table saw. Now what?" Well, I did the only thing I could do at this point: pray. I told God that if I was going to do this kitchen in the little time we have, I would need a decent table saw, and since we couldn't find one, I needed help. If this was His will for me to do, He would need to provide somehow. I prayed for two days. And I should add one more thing: before I started praying for the table saw, I felt like God was saying "expect me to move when you pray. Pray with expectation that I 'God' will answer."

So after two days of just short prayers for God to please provide, the 'answer' showed up. Duane, a Jamaican, is a fellow wood worker who loves the Lord. He 'felt' like he should come to YWAM to see about starting a woodworking shop at the base here. The base director pointed him to me and another guy. When he brought it up, I almost immediately asked if he happened to have a table saw. He replied, "yes, do you need one?"

"This is too good to be true. Stay calm. Hold on," I told myself.

Duane went on to tell me that it was in storage and he wouldn't be needing it for a couple months, so we could go ahead and just use it for the kitchen job if we would like. So that very day we went and picked it up. He also had a 20" planer, an 8" jointer, a large air compressor, chop saw, and sander he said we could also use. Wow! A man I just met, who actually just showed up out of the blue, is going to lend all of his woodworking equipment to a stranger. For nothing. Praise the Lord! He did it, HE provided the table saw I was praying for, and more, in just two short days.

We have since set up our 'shop' on the base in the maintanance barn. We have built the work benchs, run the wire for the equipment, found some great local wood and plywood, and we are now ready to make some sawdust!

I am sharing this to encourage others to pray. PRAY. And PRAY EXPECTANTLY. God hears our prayers and he will answer. He is concerned with our situations, whether big or small. He cares. Pray and Expect God to Move.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Creepy Crawly Blessing

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This is the creepy crawly critter that welcomed us to our Jamaican home. We walked through the front door, and right above the dining table was about a 3 foot web with this spiny spider. I did a quick 'heeby jeeby' dance, and then, since my brave hubby was still unloading the vehicle, I mustered the courage to take two shoes and clap them together, sandwiching the threat with a crushing force. Mission accomplished. I found a broom and swept the dangling threads, as I faced the questions inside my head: "What in the world is this thing?" and "What in the world am I going to do with them in my house?"

I am not a fan of insects. Or frogs, lizards, snakes, or any of the like. I don't like the idea of anything crawling on my things, or me or my kids, but especially if it could be dangerous. Right? Obviously.

So, to my disappointment, upon my first visit to the clothesline to hang our laundry, I discovered it to be a popular spot for these things. About 8 or 9 of them, on several 2-3 foot webs. They were dominating much of my needed line. Again, I dance. Deep breath. "Lord help me." I do not take any shoes. I submit to their kingship over the clothesline and use the remaining unconquered territory of line. I feel defeated by creatures the size of my fingernail. I do another version of 'the dance' as I zip back to the house, only to run right through a web! "You've got to be kidding me!"

Dance, dance, dance with full use of facial expressions, and run faster to the house.

I warn the children to stay away from the critters, as they could be dangerous. I don't want to instill unnecessary fear, but I also have enough sense to know that even if not poisonous, a spider bite is not pleasant. I am cautious now to check the bedrooms at night, and thankfully I find no more in the house.

Over the course of the next few days, we are meeting the other missionary families, and our kids are happy to have some playmates. There is now a mini-gang of 4 year-olds who like to congregate in the yard in front of our house. Jamordan is a 4 year-old boy. He is a polite, friendly little guy, and quickly my kids have accepted him as their friend. Judah, also 4, is boisterous and full of energy; the expression 'all boy' fits him well, as it does our own little Liam. Then there is Jaden, an adorable little girl, quite a bit smaller than Violet, and who hardly says a peep. She studies us with her beautiful dark eyes and a serious face, but must be entertained enough to tag along. This day we are raking the big leaves that have fallen from the almond and palm trees, and they all want to help me gather the piles and squish them into buckets (they find their bottoms work well for this, to sit right in the buckets). Then we carry them to the compost pile at the back of the property. We are a happy group, proud of our hard work and teamwork.

On our way back, we approach the clothesline, and before I know it, Judah has got a spider in his hand! "Stay calm Michelle." I resist the dance.

This brave young boy, in a manner to prove his manhood, declares he will squash this spider. But, instantly, Jamordan comes to the defense of the spider and pleads with Judah, "Don't squash him! That would make Jesus very sad. He is God's creation, and he is a nice little pet." Jamordan takes the spider from Judah and cups him in the protection of his hand. Judah doesn't pay it much mind, and simply takes another one. He seems content with the idea to pardon the spiders and allow life for today, and he watches his creepy crawly friend explore up and down his arm. Now I've watched Charlottes's Web, and I've cried with my daughters over it, but the real-life version still just doesn't make me want to be friends.

I ask "Is it okay to touch these spiders? They could bite kids."

Surprisingly, little quiet Jaden blurts out in her matter-of -factness, "These spiders don't bite. I read it in a book, so I know."

"Are you sure?" I can't help but challenge her, even in her adorable seriousness.

Then, all the Jamaican kids look at me like I'm crazy. "These are like pets." I watch as they all look at these hideous thorny crab-looking insects. And they are adoring them in awe and delight as they crawl from finger to finger, up the arm, across a shirt. White and black, yellow and black, red ones too. And I feel so foolish. I step in closer to take in this almost laughable wonder. What I was afraid of is not only apparently harmless, but it is like a little treasure today for these kids. (Well most of them... my kids are watching at a 'safe distance'.)

Later, I look it up on the internet. Spiny-backed Orb Weaver. They are indeed harmless, just as my expert friend Jaden had correctly told me. They not only catch mosquitos and bees, but they are also amazing little artists, diligently working to make the beautiful orb-webs. I watch a you-tube video of one such masterpiece in progress (link below). As I watch what is crafted by what has been crafted by the ultimate Creator, something happens to my soul. It is JOY, DELIGHT, BLESSING. From a spider?

My heart swells with revelation from the Lord. "What other wonders are you missing out on because of the lenz with which you have chosen to look at the world? You fear the unknown, and so you will not know the fullness of blessings I have for you." I realize this includes friendships, and life experiences. And I humbly, and thankfully plead with my Father to give me eyes to see.

I will confess, the kids have gotten brave, but I have yet to hold one of them! Baby steps. Enjoy the pictures below. Copy and paste to watch the you-tube video: