I Left My Heart in…Santa Rosa?

Eager to be home…not at all ready to leave…

That’s the way we feel this morning as we hug our kids and get in the car.

I have pretty well chronicled the wonderful adventures, learning experiences, and new friends we have made and encountered in this place, so, if you’ve been following this blog the last two weeks, you have some idea what a great trip we have had. And, to be honest, there are some challenges and frustrations about which I simply cannot share. Taken all together and mixed with the sadness that is natural with a couple more months and many miles of separation we find our hearts understandably heavy.

But…we’re hoping to make it back to see one of our boys play soccer tonight.

That’s the way of life as a parent…as a follower of Jesus…as a human.

We go, we meet, we share – and we separate.

We will forever remember this dusty, strange, beautiful place and the sweet people we encountered here – especially those with whom we worshiped and those who are loving and supporting our kids. And so, in that sense, we do leave a little piece of our hearts in Santa Rosa knowing that a reunion is sure – hoped for soon on this earth, but assured someday above.

And so, to our new friends – brothers and sisters – I would leave you with these words from our brother Paul:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, (‭Philippians‬ ‭1‬:‭3-4‬)

And to all of my fellow home-bodies who are slow to venture out of our comfort zones…I would simply remind you – and me – that the more we go and stretch and share our hearts, the more love we share and the sweeter the reunion will be.

This morning we left a piece of our hearts in Santa Rosa…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Uncommonly Common

There is something almost startling in finding a very strong and sweet fellowship with people you have just met.

Last night we gathered in the home of a dear new friend with several other new friends for a time of simply being together. We shared a meal. We shared frustrations. We shared a few moments of prayer.

In this particular gathering, we did share, at least to a large degree, a common language. And, as we shared a common meal and shared unique stories, jokes, and memories…we also shared a sweetly common hope. There were many different backgrounds and, no doubt, some very different spiritual perspectives, but a common confidence in the name of Jesus.

I am struck by the richness of this fellowship. It is one that is, no doubt, strengthened through the adversity of workplace challenges, cultural difficulties, and what feels like an uphill climb for their purpose of being here together. But it is deeper than that.

What I think I see in these dear folks is the very thing that our brother Paul challenged us unto:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭4‬)

It’s a common care that is far too uncommon these days.

What if all of us who follow Jesus were genuinely at least as concerned about the concerns of others as we are about our own?

What if this commomality were not so uncommon?

I’ll Come to You

So we went to do laundry yesterday.

That’s no big deal except that our kids that live here went back to school. So Tori and I ventured out, with specific directions, to do some laundry and get some lunch.

In both of the establishments we visited, there was someone there that spoke English to help us communicate back and forth. It was incredibly comforting to find people that were willing to come to where we were in order to help us understand what was being asked or expressed.

I have been, at times, one of those peole who has thought that people coming to my native land should learn the language instead of expecting us to come to them. And, I suppose, it does make a difference when one comes to live in a foreign land. My kids have worked hard at learning the language here and that is indeed an honorable endeavor.

But I have seen the other side just a bit. It’s not about signs and documents. In reality, it’s about serving others.

I want to make something like a vow – to all of those I will have occasion to interact.

I’ll come to you.

I won’t expect you to understand my “christian-ese” and my theological terminology. I won’t expect you to get my cultural references. I won’t expect you to speak my language.

I’ll come to you.

I won’t expect you to wander into the church where I preach. I won’t wait for you to show up for a worship service. I won’t look quizically at you and wonder why you can’t just meet me in the middle.

I may not succeed. I will no doubt fail –  many times in many ways.

But I will try with all that I am.

I’ll come to you.

I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9‬:‭22b-23‬)