Morniging Reflections of my heart…

I am surprised in the thoughts that are flowing from my heart this morning as I prepare for my day. I thought I would write a quick email to my Mom. It feels like an appropriate blog update. Let me share a bit of it with you…

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 I am awake yet again and a bit surprised to think that tonight i will need to pack. There are lasting friendships being created. I believe if  Open Hearts launches a Journey Group ministry here it will be a big step and will require return trips for quite some time by a variety of those on the journey.
China no longer seems so far away. Knowing and loving the people shortens the distance. I do expect I will return and my thoughts that I never desired to travel to China now seem foreign. Friday we will see the great wall and I imagine that will be remarkable. But all that being said, I am ready for daily conversations and soon to be bike rides, daily exercises and time with my family again.  For work and play and sleeping in my own bed and Dutch. All of that sounds wonderful.
The lessons today are big as we deal with every day experiences such as brokenness, disappointment and redemption. There is a lot of pain and so much influence of male power and female submission. Our women will not have the freedom to speak of their experience and in some ways that feels cruel. (cruel to awaken their hearts in areas they do not have freedom to speak)
 We have witnessed the awakening of souls and offered an invitation to express all that is held within each woman’s heart. There is so much pain and at times, words do not match the depth of the sobbing. Silence and Submission are powerful grips that continue to torment the mind and heart asking is it really safe to speak of all that I hold within…
I am grateful to live in a family where children are delighted in. The questions of how do I become childlike in my faith when to be a child implies only the command of obedience resonates in my heart as it was asked by one young woman in the chinese language. Each woman nodded and shared how being childlike is a very scary idea in the ways we discuss it and yet they do embrace it as an invitation from God himself….
And so, as I wrote last night about all that transcends culture, this morning I wake up pleading with God to move today in the areas that do not transcend cultures. I ask God to plant deeply in the souls of these men and women His presence and protection. I pray that the faith they have fully embraced in their thoughts and minds but do not have the freedom to live out in their daily life, will be a faith of comfort as they realize they walk away from the loving community and embrace we have all shared. They return to friends and family, communities and villages that do not invite them to share their experience. It is my hope and prayer that the awakening of souls that we have marveled at and celebrated will be protected and nurtured in super natural ways.
I have missed writing and blogging at the end of each day. I know I am leaving a piece of my heart in China and will invite many to pray for the birth of Journey groups here. I will invite many to hold the faces of these beautiful chinese people close to your hearts, knowing the stories they live every day have many scenes of tragedy and feel as if the scenes of hope are sporadic. I continue to marvel at how the sharing of stories invites our hearts to connect and be tender. And as that has happened over the last few days, Hope has been born and embraced!
Today is a new day and I am eager to watch it unfold…

Transcending Culture…

We have completed another full day of Journey Groups and I have a good internet connection for the moment, so I will send a quick update.

I stand in awe of the many things I have experienced this week that transcend culture:

Laughter and tears…

Food and community….

Stories and Worship…

There have been moment of deep connection and a few times where the holding of hands and a smile is what has connected two people. We speak a different language and live in a very different culture, but when sitting in a circle to share what we have experienced in life, the themes seem the same. We share of sorrow and heartache but also of dreams birthed and realized. We share of children born and parents aging, of faithful friends and painful abandonment. We share a God who is our provider, protector and yet we still have questions of why life has unfolded the way it has.

We have traveled a long distance and yet the stories  feels familiar. I am experiencing this week that regardless from where we come, when we look beyond what we see as differences, hearts unite quickly! I realize that if we had chosen to focus on what was different, we could have had much to compare as well. We would miss the experience of connecting our experiences, stories and hearts. We would have lost out on friendship.

I wonder where in our day-to-day, with people in our own communities, we opt to focus on differences and therefore miss an opportunity to experience the connection of our experiences, stories and hearts. I am puzzled how we can connect so easily with the people of China and yet we pass our neighbor on the street (or in our Church) without much of a thought…

I am thankful to sit with these very dear people….the journey is good!

(The connection is not allowing for my multiple pictures to be added, so those will come in time!)