From Voices of the Faithful compiled by Kim P. Davis
Most workers from our organization must learn a foreign language. For me, it’s Mandarin Chinese. While studying, I was intrigued by the phrase ling xiu (leeng SHE-oo), which refers to a Christian’s daily devotional time.
Although this was new vocabulary, I already had learned both of the characters in different contexts. Ling means “spirit” or “soul.” Xiu means “to repair.” I had learned xiu I with the washing-machine repairman who was coming weekly to keep our ancient model running!
In my notes, I wrote “devotional= spirit repair.” What a fitting way to describe our devotional time: repairing the soul by reading God’s word and communing with Him. Like that dilapidated washing machine, my spirit needs the ultimate Repairman. Although I complained about the washer, it was stronger than my own inner man. It needed weekly repair, while I need it daily.
At one point, the repairman explained that the washer was used too often. I laughed inwardly at his solution – if I could just stop dirty laundry from accumulating, all would be well! What a parallel to how the stresses of life wear away our spiritual vitality just like the never-ending laundry wears out the washer’s parts.
We can’t stop the stresses of life any more than my family can stop producing dirty clothes. So I keep calling the Repairman to patch up my soul. Our daily “spirit repair” time is what keeps me sharing the gospel even with slow results and using my poor Mandarin when I look foolish. It provides compassion for my city so I can fulfill God’s call in my life.
I’m a word-picture person and it is always helpful to have one more picture to drive me to the Lord.
I want to share with my blog friends about some people close to my heart and the life changes that are taking place. Michael and Tammi Rice have been close friends of Joel and I for around 4 years now. Actually, our beginnings are pretty awkward and funny.
When Joel and I started hanging out in August 2000, Joel had been a Christian about 3 months. Slightly before him, his friend Brian, also a former atheist, had also become a Christian, through the birth of Brian’s son. Anyway, they had started having informal bible studies at Brian’s apartment, and Joel invited me to come along. He explained in advance that I would probably be asked to read aloud from the Bible, since they were all so new at this and not comfortable yet. Also, when they prayed, it was silently, since no one was comfortable praying aloud either. All this was funny to me, since I had grown up in church and bible studies, and it had never dawned on me that it was odd to pray aloud.
So, I attended this Bible study twice with Joel. This first week was pretty “normal” compared to my other Bible Study experience. We read through some scripture, discussed it, and bowed our heads to silently pray. The second week things got weird. Basically, some people were invited to “come hang out” without really knowing about the Bible Study part. Mike and Tammi were at this Bible Study… I think they might have know about the bible part, but some of our other friends definitely did not. This was also something that I had not concept of – I had never been somewhere when people came to a bible study unaware. In fact, it wasn’t until after the fact that I caught on to this. Anyway, alot of awkward debate ensued, and people were offended, and Mike and Tammi were somewhere in the middle of all the friends, Christian and not. And since I was just meeting these people, and thinking “why did you come to a Bible study if you don’t believe in God?”, I didn’t really connect with Mike or Tammi.
My second encounter with Mike was worse than the first. It was in Spring 2001 when I was pregnant with Arabella, working full-time at Star of Hope (including 2 nights until 10:30pm), and VERY MOODY. I came home to Joel & I’s apartment around 11pm one night. He was hanging out with someone I didn’t know well (Mike) and I was tired. So I walked straight to my bedroom, got ready for bed, and called for Joel from there. I said something bitchy about the guest leaving, and went to sleep. (and we wonder while Joel was so in favor of adoption/never being pregnant again!)
But the third encounter with Mike & Tammi was totally different. We ran into them at a show at Mary Jane’s in Fall 2001, when Arabella was a few months old. It was one of my first nights out without the baby, and I actually didn’t leave her very far. My Mimi lives off the same street as MJ’s, so I just dropped her there between feedings, then went back in time to feed her. Tammi and I started talking as soon as we got to the show, then she left to go with me to Mimi’s and bring the baby back, then she sat outside with me and Arabella while the men finished the show. Tammi was so easy to get to know that I wondered how I had missed out on her the year before.
At that time, they started coming to Ecclesia with us, and quickly became involved in the same small group we were in. Our lives became very intertwined. They epitimize community living by their entire attitudes. I remember that first year as a beautiful mixture of resources – money, time, friendship. With Mike & Tammi, there is never an awkward discussion of balancing who paid for this dinner with who will pay next time. They are NOT worried about being even = they are always willing to be ahead. They are “givers.” Hopefully, in the long run, we haven’t just been “takers,” but I know that Mike & Tammi don’t keep track.
When they started going to Ecclesia, Mike was still figuring out where he stood with Jesus. I think this is often harder for people raised in the church. It is hard to make it your own and not just feel like you are defaulting to your parents’ choice. But eventually, Mike was baptized at Ecclesia. That is a pretty funny story. The baptistry at South Main (where Ecclesia had church) was either not filled up, or not heated up, or both. So, we headed outside the fountain in front of the church. By the way, it was COLD. Also, Mike is 6’+ and the fountain was about 1′ deep, so this was a humbling challenge, but very neat.
From the start, Tammi has been talking about going to Africa. Back in 2002, she talked Peace-Corp, cuz she and Mike are very interested in social reform and helping in a tangible way. She also has been talking about adopting children and/or being houseparents to orphans.
Last year, they started looking for a mission organization to go to Africa with. And they went to a meeting at Mike’s parent’s church about a trip to Kenya, Gateway, where they experience some frustration that I remember from my college years – people don’t take your seriously. When you want to be a life-time missionary, it is hard to convince people that this is your dream for forever. I remember Tammi saying, “We told them we could bring tents and sleeping bags, if we could just come.” But of course, the process is alot more complicated then that.
But Tammi stayed on the email list for this ministry in Kenya, and she continued to fall in love with it. The ministry is actually called Starfish Kenya. To sum up the ministry, basically, a Kenyan couple has adopted 31 orphans and needs lots of help. Tammi & Mike started planning to go on Gateway’s annual trip this summer.
Then, over Thanksgiving, the Kenyan father, Naftali, suddenly passed away. This has left Margaret, the mother, alone to care for all the children. As soon as Tammi told me about Naftali’s death, I knew that it was time for them to go. Everything in their lives has been leading to this – being about to help Margaret raise these orphans.
So, they are preparing to go to Kenya in September, after graduating in May from University of Houston, and then attending Montessori training over the summer.
Please pray for them. They must raise about $20,000 this year. They have to finish school and keep working their full-time jobs.
Please pray for Margaret. 9-months doesn’t seem long for Mike & Tammi to prepare; it seems like a long time for Margaret to be on her own.