Four Steps to Journal as PrayerHow it works practically is this: open a new word document on your computer or your physical journal. A few pieces of paper will do as well, of course.
1. Now, start by simply writing facts. Share the basic matters of the day.
Where did you go?
Who did you meet?
2. Once you have done that for a while and feel comfortable sharing, begin to share how you felt about it those things.
What thoughts did you have about what happened?
Did the place you go please you? Upset you? Inspire you? Depress you?
Did you like who you met? Were there any cultural barriers to who you met? Did it occur to you why you would like to be able to communicate better with them?
3. Now that you have gotten this far, which, honestly, is well on your way to being introspective, take it one step further. Write down your questions about how you felt and address them to God.
God, why did You share with me the things that happened? Why did You lead me to these places?
Why was I upset at what I saw? What can I do about it?
Why did You put that person in front of me? Should I meet with them or invite them do dinner? How can I serve this person better?
4. Finally, write down what you sense the Lord is saying to you. You know where the keys are on your keyboard; close your eyes. Try to listen to what God is saying. Write anything you feel is spontaneously coming to you. Cross it out later, just go with it.
I wanted to share these experiences with you, daughter. I wanted you to see where the need was, son.
You feel the way you do because you have my heart, and these things upset me. I wanted them to see that I am willing to meet them where they are at, my daughter.
Yes, take them to dinner or taking them to coffee will do, my son.
You see, even if these things are from your mind, so be it! They are a good beginning to not only being able to pray and commune with God from your journal. They are also a good start to being able to discern your inner voice.
******* (Now, an excerpt from our small download, 'Your First Week On the Mission Field.') *****
Our First Full Day On the Field, Not What I Would Have ThoughtMy alarm woke me far too early. 4:45 a.m. comes quickly.
The night before I was feeling rested and prepared from a successful Day 00. Marissa calmed my fears down with some reassuring words.
We found some basic food at a local coffee shop. Some fears about finding food faded. We bought some water at a small ‘farmaceria’. Some fears about finding water melted away. We walked hand in hand, greeting everyone we met with an ‘hola’ or ‘buenos noches’ without harm. Some fears about safety faded.
With all that, I was determined to have a highly productive Day 01. I used to wake up at 4 a.m. every morning. So, I set my alarm for what I soon found to be a devilish 4:45 a.m. Needless to say, we did not throw back the sheets to ‘levante’ until 6:30 a.m. We roused. Marissa stirred and, bearing about some remaining butterflies of her own, followed me to the cafe.
There were new people working, so our efforts to bridge the language barrier started bright and early. We ordered ‘un cafe, un cappucino y dos pastels.’ Marissa’s thoughts about her first dives in years to begin that morning shrunk her hunger. I wanted to seem confident for her. I joked, watched the Latin news, and talked about what we would accomplish during the day.
Finishing with enough time to spare, we returned to the room. Marissa gathered her dive gear. I grabbed the camera. We walked down the terracotta tile hallway to the dive class. Marissa settled in. I took a picture and returned to the room.
Today was all about finding a new normal. I knew I needed a routine, but where would I start. Though writing is the more regular thing I do now, I could not pass up a morning stretch and dip in the lagoon-blue water. After some push ups, sit ups, and several laps back and forth along the coast, I returned to find my normal.
Since wifi internet is only available in the open air lobby of the dive resort, I set up there. I began by going through my emails and social networking messages. In that short time, my legs were already swollen with a multitude of mosquito bites. Though the sun was high and the heat wafted in waves under the palm-layered roof, the mosquitoes operated as deadly assassins in the shade.
This made me desire a momentary change before sitting to write. A dip in the pool was in order. Splash. Swim one lap. Breathe. Swim another lap. Towel off.
Now, to face those darn mosquitoes again. Knowing that anyone seeing a photo of my ocean-side “office” on Pinterest would ensure the lack of any sympathizers, I returned to my work writing.
Start and stop. Swat! Clicking on the keys. Smack! Research that concept on a Spartan’s sword again. Bang! (Curses God’s creation of mosquito’s under breath.) Sorting note cards about my ‘90 Day Launch Guide to a Life of Mission.’ Slap-Slap! Editing blog. Bam! Researching ministries in Punta Cana. Pow! Scratch-Scratch. Emailing ministry partner about working in the D.R. and what is going on in Haiti. Nibble. Adjusting chair. Walk around to allow blood lessen the throbbing in the bites. Return to seeking forums or boards about local ministry.
GAH! I was going crazy. So, I packed up and was about to head to my room when, bam, there is Marissa back from her two dives already. Several hours had passed. I had written in, well, not exactly Auschwitz-like conditions. For the non-sympathizers, I will simply say it was not perfect writing conditions. BUT! I had written.
My neck was stiff and my feet swollen. I stood on one leg while my other itched it as Marissa gave me the update on her day of diving. We shared a plate of rice and beans. She planned to go to the pool for a third dive of the day, so I returned to the room to rest my neck, my feet, and generally get a new start on the day.
I had no momentum. And, though I had actually written more in one sitting than I had in a week back home, I knew that I had not brought us one step closer to living a life of mission than I was when I sat down. I turned on the TV to improve my Spanish by watching a show in Spanish. Some call this vegging out. I call it learning language.
Knock-Knock. Marissa had returned. There was no need for her to dive in the pool today. So, we went down to the beach for another swim. The sun was nice and, since she was in a wet suit all morning, Marissa wanted to get some sun.
By this time, I was getting antsy for any sense that we were moving toward being secure in a life of mission, I paced. Marissa ignored this for a few moments, trying to peacefully get some sun. Upon accepting that I would walk a trench into the sand, she offered that we return to the room, get ready, take a walk to explore the area and then grab dinner.
The only response to that is a good kissing. Which, I can attest, was the best kissing Marissa had ever gotten. Just saying.
We Explored. We walked in the humidity all the way down a particular street. We stumbled upon the stark contrast between the smells of rank sewers and over-ripe fruit and the sights of perfectly manicured and high-walled resorts. We walked past to areas that reminded us of Haiti.
We Absorbed the sounds of Spanish mixed with quiet quips of conversations in Haitian Creole. My quick glance at recognizing the language would case the speakers to return to an accented Spanish conversation.
We Observed this and noted the self-consciousness that Haitians bear here. After that steamy 45 minutes or so, we sat at a sports bar targeting vacationers. We ordered burgers and fries and tacos. They were about the only things on this diminutive menu which, I suppose, was fitting as it matched the smallness of the restaurant. It was just a handful of tables.
We began to Unwind by Interacting with Valerie, a Spanish-speaking transplant from Belguim. She gave us some tips about getting around town. I only understood half of what she said. Marissa was very impressed by this. Just ask her.
Another waitress talked with us. Her name was Vivian. She was Italian. She spoke French, English, Italian and Spanish. She was a waitress gypsy whose linguistic skills were her key to most nations in the world. Energetic is an inaccurate word for her. Electric is more like it. Marissa and I appreciated her interaction in English with us, her local knowledge, and her welcoming nature.
The sense of ease we felt after that walk and time at dinner was soothing. We returned to our ‘habitacion’, our room. We put on a show and, just before falling asleep, I set my alarm for 4:14 a.m.