Saturday, September 21, 2013

Waiting Waiting Waiting

I’m not very good at waiting, honestly.  I get impatient inside when there is nothing left to be done.  I’m much better at doing something – anything!  Give me a project and a deadline and I will complete it regardless of how long it might take or how specific the details.  I will enjoy the whole work of it.

But waiting means I have to give the work of something to someone else and then not think about the thing until it’s given back.

In the meantime, who knows what someone else is doing with my project while I don’t have control of it anymore!  What if they make a mistake?  What if my expectations of them are misplaced?  What if ….

I suppose that’s where faith comes in.

When it’s God and the Russian government you are waiting on it takes a lot of faith!

So here I am waiting for my Letter of Invitation.  The official piece of paper that I need before I can apply for my visa to start my adventures in Moscow.

I’m not really doing nothing while I’m waiting.  I’m doing all kinds of things, actually.  Getting all the details ready for the responsibilities I leave behind like my house and car and the random assorted collection of stuff I have amassed.  

And collecting memories, too.  Lunches and dinners and small trips overflow with blessings, “I love you!” and hugs – lots of hugs.  Funny how the idea of going overseas makes us reconsider the importance of the friendships we fill our lives with.  As fragile as life is, I think we should fill more moments with those things.

I haven’t done much writing lately, honestly, because I am too busy living and find myself at a loss for words.  I absolutely, 100% can NOT believe how supportive people have been of this trip!  

My church family in Thorp, to start with, made pledges so fast the pledge-writer couldn’t keep up.  My son said it took 7 minutes to get a full year’s support!  That’s crazy.  Most of these people don’t even know me.  They have shared this quiet season with me from a distance watching, perhaps, but not participating in my every day.  

Then there was my church family in Bloomington.  Same story, different city.  Their prayers, their encouragement, their support leaves me without words.  Many of them know me well having helped to put me back together through one of the most difficult times of my life.  I knew I could count on their encouragement and their prayers, but financially, too, they gave and gave.  And all I could do was smile and cry and hope I can be worth their investment.

And then my co-workers worked behind my back to put together a surprise that totally surprised me!  “Let’s have dinner with Lyn” turned into “let’s have a party for Kris!” and laughter laced laughter and lives connected in another level of friendship. Their generosity makes a huge impression on my heart.

The camera they pitched in for is well beyond what I had prayed for – well beyond.  I asked God if I couldn’t have a new camera that wouldn’t take shaky pictures, that would let me get a good close up, that would make the things I see shareable.  “Could I have $150 or something at the end of the list of needs for the trip?  I’d like a camera, God, a better one than I have so I can share what I see.”  

God is probably laughing at my idea of better compared to His idea of better!

People ask me some questions the same over and over, “aren’t you afraid of what will happen with what you leave behind?”

I’m taking the best things with me.  I have discovered in all of my traipsing between hither and yon that friendships don’t really end no matter where you go.  The impressions of your friends remain on your heart, in your thoughts, entwined about you.  “Iron sharpens iron” is how the Bible describes it.  Friends remain a part of you.  Always.

I take with me the kindness, the support, the laughter, the complicity, the joy, the bonds, the sorrows, the hardships, the tears of my friends.

I hope I leave the right things behind.  Lingering smiles, gentle answers, laughter to overcome strained days, easy compassion, a quick “Thanks, God!” when interesting people challenge perspectives.

I will miss my angelbabies, that’s a fact.  But I take them with me in a thousand ways.  Mavrik’s shy smile when he realizes he’s being watched.  Anna’s laughter and sheer joy in life.  Arthur’s blunt honesty.  Eli’s giggle and teasing.   And the rest of the collection, too.  Their "got a mint?" smiles and running, leaping hugs fill my cup.  I will miss my kids, too.  John’s gentle wisdom. Thi’s crazy humor.  Melissa’s foundational friendship.  

I hope I leave a lot of things behind for them, too.  My love for Jesus, my sense of adventure, my desire to bring change to the world’s problems even if it’s only a drop in the bucket.  I want them to follow the good I do, but also to learn from my failures so they aren’t repeated.

I would like to be already there.  This waiting is trying my patience!  But while I’m waiting I’m working hard to collect what I will need when I get there, too.  I guess waiting really is ok after all.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 (Repost)

I wasn't there. I didn't see the planes or smell the dust or hear the screams or the agonizing silence.

Safely tucked away in the Midwest where nothing bad like that ever happens, I listened in horror. The radio newscaster's voice broke as he tried to relay information about unreal events. It sounded like a bad Hollywood movie, but it was real.

This time it wasn't Jerusalem or Belfast or Seoul. It was happening in our country. The United States of America.

Someone had the audacity to take advantage of our trust. The idea that everyone here from wherever they came could learn to become whoever they wanted to be.

No one expected that would mean that a would-be pilot would destroy instead of build.

Over the years I have spoken with New Yorkers about what this meant to them. They tell of their sorrow, who they knew, how they got out, where they were. They never tire of the telling and I'm grateful.

We can't forget this.

Not so we become angry, refusing to allow "foreigners" to learn new trades. Not so we become suspicious of everyone who looks like someone who might have been involved.

So we can be wary, alert, cautious and protect not only our country from this violence - but other countries as well.

This time it was New York City. It's true. How did we feel?

Many, many times in my lifetime it's has been Beirut, Kabul, Seoul, Belfast, Jersusalem. Lockerbie, Moscow. How do they feel?

What can we as human beings do to lessen the violence in our world? What would Jesus do?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Crossing Bridges - Thorp to Moscow

I have had an overwhelming response to the last blog post about my trip to Russia.  Many have asked how to partner with me.

The greatest need is prayer.  Honestly.  I am going to have a middle school classroom of 16 students from 9 different countries.  Which means 9 different cultures, 9 different languages, 9 different views of religious tradition.  Gives a whole new meaning to melting pot!

Being a teacher first requires me to assist their basic academic education.  Readin', Writin' and 'Rithmatic are important.  But my past students seem to remember more of the character things we learned together - random acts of kindness, volunteering at a shelter, expanding creative writing, believing in themselves when no one else did, learning to face challenges.

I want those kinds of things to be the benchmark of learning for my new students, too.

Under it all, I want to share Jesus with them in a new dimension, a greater way, to encourage a personal relationship with Him that will last through their lifetimes wherever they go.  I really do.

And to do that with that depth of cultural background - I am going to need a lot of prayer!   If you would like to be a prayer partner and receive updates of the trip, please e-mail me at and I will add you to the mailing list. 

The second thing I will need is finances.  I will get a stipend from the school for which I am very grateful.  But the costs associated with dropping where I am to go where I am going are greater than the stipend will allow.  I will have church support and so I'm not fretting over how it can happen.

At the same time I have long been on the other side of watching my friends go hither and yon to share the Gospel in many different countries and I jumped at the chance to be a small part of their work.  It's funny how tight the bonds and connections are when you invest some of yourself into someone else.

At the prodding of my youngest, I have set up a Go Fund Me page in the event you would like to partner with me financially.  Here is the link for that page:  GoFundMe

I still am jumping through hoops to get all the paperwork in order.  But as long as the door keep opening, I will keep walking through them.  I feel like Alice in Wonderland moving through an unreal place where the unexpected is to be expected.

God is good.  I am honored to be offered this opportunity.  I hope you'll come with me.  Oh!  The stories we will tell!

To order a copy of A Book of Pages About Crossing Bridges or a Friend Named Jesus,
 please visit my website:  Writer's Pages
Facebook:  Author Kris A. Newman