Friday, October 12, 2012

Gun Shots, Bilbo Baggins & Rookie Missionary Tip 010: Read 'The Open Secret'

Tip 010: Read 'The Open Secret' by Lesslie Newbigin. Missiologists like this have really offered great understanding to the field of missions. Get some background!

You can view all of the tips at the experimental site for Rookie Missionary Tips here.


Gun shots rang out. 

That is not what it was like, though. We heard several rapid pops shock the otherwise muggy night air. Then another four or five pops sounded. So, you could say rather "gun shots popped through the night." And we really did not know it was gun shots until we thought about it later.

Then, it was quiet. A baby in the apartment somewhere below us cried. Dogs barked incessantly. The neighbors all came to their tiled porches or barred windows.

Another sudden volley of shots rang out sending everyone inside. Then, it was over.

Marissa fell right back to sleep. I could not.

I went outside to see a crowd of neighborhood men, some in shorts, most all shirtless gather at the end of the street to find the culprit(s). One of them puffed a cigarette as he passed me dialing a cell phone. A police truck raced down the dirt road moments later. After a few minutes of heated exchanges, the police left and crowd of men dispersed. Apparently no one was harmed, only threatened.

The muggy night breeze foretold of a cooler evening (which ultimately accounted for Marissa's sound sleep.) That same breeze touched my skin as I tried to ease myself to rest unsuccessfully.

I had been up and down in the night, each time rousing Marissa who had a long day and was expecting another. Not wanting to wake her again, I grabbed my copy of 'The Hobbit' and sat down on the cool, sweaty tile to read.

The baby cried once or twice more, but finally faded to sleep as the stars began to dance between splotchy blacknesses that hinted at night clouds. Completing the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, I put down the book still wide awake. "Bilbo, you just finished your adventure grim. I feel as if on the edge of the Mirkwood just beginning mine," though I as I leaned on the concrete patio railing.

The pathway to missions, or any mission, or any adventure for that matter, was, apparently, not very straight. Many other lines of work and living, I suppose, are quite straight and straightforward. Missions, or, in another word, adventuring, is most certainly not.

This had been a deep frustration of mine. For, like Bilbo, I have been a rather out-of-sorts adventurer. Unwilling at times. Unsure most times. Quite delightful at rare times. Unsure of myself.

But, as Bilbo said to himself somewhere in the roots of the mountains, well in the dark heart of the Misty Mountains, "Back is sure death. Left and Right are almost as questionable. I guess forward is the best way." And he placed a fury foot forward. My foot, not nearly as fury and my heart not nearly as formidable, must follow Bilbo's footsteps, dark though it may be.

In the morning, Marissa did yoga on the patio while Eric stretched and had a morning smoke. We all took turns watching the sky adjust from deep purples to the blinding white of day. I lit the propane stove and place the coffee percolator on to boil.

Not being hungry from want of sleep, the hot coffee was a luxury in the cool morning air. (See! I told you how the breeze promised a coolness!)

Regardless, I felt glum. I have felt glum. I continue in my glumminity. My companions seem to fair the changes of place and weather well. I feel that our troop of adventures has either turned into wanderers or mere merry-makers.

And, in my defense, I love a good merry-making and have witnessed my own wanderings with pleasure and whimsy. However, now I feel that there is a great, solemn adventure (and treasure, of the soulish sort!) to be had under a great dragon to slay and that our adventure stretches longer into the winter of the soul than desired.

The Cities of Men
We set forth on our mission for missions in May (and what a glorious May day it was, bright and brilliant and green.) We traveled over the mighty river that divides our country in two though not evenly. From there we experienced the vast expanse of grasslands that is glorious and mesmerizing. We forged over the Craggy Range of purple mountains, into the sopping yet-not-dreary northwest. Visited the Red Tree Giants and saw their mystery in an eclipsing moon. From there we ventured down to the vast cities of men and women and their buildings and immeasurable roads.

Our Desert Hobbit Hole
We then turned back East to make our way into the bone-dry and never-ending desert for training. The desert was at first an inhospitable place, but buried in the sand we found homes and a surprisingly welcome and open people. We learned much and had a very many small adventures and surprises that I shall not retell here. But as June galloped by and July faded toward August, we made a return trip.

All in all, the adventure to a life of missions to that point had been mostly jolly. There were interruptions of inconveniences and inconvenient attitudes, but on the whole it was most enjoyable. On this return trip, however, I had grown increasingly glum.

First, the unknown of being on an island we know not of was challenging. And second, the weight of the dragon we desire to slay increased (and increases still) with each day. The seriousness of the mission burns in me. The treasured sense of victory beneath the dragon when slain seems to be unattainably distant. And our excursions to Bavaro and now Bayahibe has me all turned around as in a darkly cave.

These places have been far pleasant and warm enough. We have not wanted for a safe place to sleep and people to chat with while continuing our development for the ultimate boon, the true mission adventure. Yet I have wanted for a sense of security in our direction.

And, as Bilbo in the Mirkwood when having stepped off the path and lost all orientation, I feel I must simply step forward in the direction I am the least doubtful of, know that my Guide is there with me, and press forward.

Typical Empanada Cart
Forgive me if this sounds too grim. I will say that quite often we have been in places that felt to be Elrond's elvin lands, where birch trees sing green and joyful, where no dreaded things have ever come nor will ever come. Bavaro is bubbly. Bayahibe is a gorgeous, small town with cobble stones and empanada vendors and a small plaza where the entire town comes to commune every evening from 7 to 9 (the only evidence of this in the morning being rows and rows of empty Presidente beer bottles standing neatly.)

I do not mean to spoil these things by being grim. Rather, I mean to be honest in my assessment that I am anxious to face our trials (though, I say, grateful for the hospitality shown us so far) for I know they are coming sooner or later. And, knowing their degree of challenge, I desire to face them sooner than later for I have the boldness in me now.

And, these things I pondered today as I sat on a cobble-stoned curb over looking the Bayahibe bay. Many numerous mopeds sped by on morning preparation errands. I assume they moved quickly to receive the several thousand vacationers whom I watched descend throughout the morning. Finally, all climbed into a white armada of tourist boats, full of life vests and sunscreen.

The town was quiet once again. Marissa and her dive companion (and our roommate) Eric were off for the day, diving, training, and learning the trade. And I sat listening to the silent, cool breeze and watching the crystal waters lap the coral boat moorings.

Dwelling on the adventure to come, the mission in our heart, I figured I should be off in preparation of some sort myself. So, up with me, I plodded down the cobblestone, greeting whom I could, shaking what grimness I could, and, considering the beauty if things I saw, brought just enough boldness in my heart to turn my attention to the missioning needs of the day.

1 comment:

Starlately said...

I like the way you write. :) Glad all are safe.