"He is the God of patience and kindness. He is completely satisfied with His children; hence, Love envies not. He believes in who His children are, and empowers them to see the gold in them; hence, Love requires no boasting. He is exactly who He says He is, not puffed up or conceited. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore, since Love is predictable and does not behave out of character (quoting The Mirror Bible). He is the God of honor. He desires His children to be free, for Love does not insist on His own way. He is the God of supernatural joy, who is always in a good mood. He is the God of mercy, yet at the same time, of justice and righteousness. Echoing Henri Nouwen, love is unconditional but not without concern. He is the God of protection - our Rock, Shield and Fortress. He is the God of hope and light. He is relentless for us. He is the God of deliverance and promises, because Love never fails."
If God is Love and love looks like something, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is definitely more than a teaching on the ways to love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:18). If God is in us and we are created in His image of love, every way of loving displays a face of God. Rick Joyner puts it plainly: the kingdom is within and we are His temple. When we place the pieces together, love is essentially the substance of the kingdom. There, we find the headwaters of the river of revival that nourish the seeds of transformation and restoration sown in the nations, with the sails of favor and access riding along as led by the wind. The Alpha is love, and so is the Omega. Love is in the beginning and will last to the end and beyond.
The ministry of John the Baptist was to make ready a people prepared for the Lord so that His glory could be revealed. What would the revealed glory in us look like to laypeople? I am guessing, love? People might question if God’s glory is legit, given that not all are believers. Fair enough. Love is, however, an universal language that can be understood by everyone and anyone, exactly how everyone and anyone think it is anyway. “If God is both Love and the Maker of the universe, of course love is an universal language,” my brain exclaims, and this language of the universe is made flesh in the Word in order that all may see. Donald Miller illustrates this in his book, Blue Like Jazz, perfectly. He never used to like jazz music until he watched a man play the saxophone with his eyes closed for fifteen minutes. “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way,” Donald Miller says.
With all these thoughts increasing the level of activity in my mind, I have come to appreciate basking in the present glory and tasting the fullness of the here and now in the hustle and bustle of the everyday life amidst Timor’s developing cosmopolitanism. It is easy to get carried away thinking about the gloriousness of the future. It is easy to get caught up in the sweet reverie. It is easy to get distracted by emergencies that crop up out of the blue, especially when, as mentioned a million times before, living in a nation full of uncertainty. It is easy to miss out on the present moments. Therefore, like the word Neo gave before I left for Timor, God has been teaching me how to look for His works and glory in things I would not usually observe and step into them. Paraphrasing Henri Nouwen once again, we can only recognize beauty and goodness that stretch as far as the ends of the earth when we are able to point out the beauty and goodness that are before our eyes. John Green also agrees that, “the real heroes are the people noticing things, paying attention.” Uh huh, though I think real heroes do not only notice, they do as well; but they do because they have first noticed. Don’t you just love the wisdom of these wordsmiths?
I have found glory in the two English Level 2 classes I am currently teaching - I see love for knowledge and desire in self-improvement in my students when I watched them practise what I taught them during break time; I see love for relationships and connections when my students reciprocated my hellos and goodbyes with beaming eyes and wide smiles; I see love for appreciation of values of self when my students wore the pleased look on their faces upon realizing all their answers were correct. Yes, challenges do confront me along the way as well. For example, my classes consist of students of a somewhat wide age range, and thus, various levels of understanding. One challenge is in lesson planning - how to engage students who already know and/or are fast learners while assisting students who do not already know and/or are slower in learning. Nevertheless, I know that all I need to do is to keep loving and teaching, both which intentionally create a conducive environment for the children to flourish, and all other things shall be added unto them.
There has been a hiatus in the art curriculum writing and art teaching as a result of the necessary exponential learning that had to be done - lesson planing, classroom management, and even order of instructions etc. You know how scientists and/or researchers always say our brains are only utilized up to 20%? I think all these stretching done to my brain might well have caused the percentage to increase to 30%. You might want to arrange an appointment to examine my brain and be the first to break this exclusive piece of news. Just kidding. Siew Lee’s guidance and tips have made my learning curve gentler than it should have been, so I am thankful. Hence, there are plans to resume the above mentioned art related activities very soon, yay!
Last week, my church in Singapore had a team over to minister in one of the districts, Liquica. It was such privilege and so much fun to be able to serve and spend time with them! Every person from the team emanated a contagious overflow of joy unspeakable and undeniable. Although I was not around in Singapore to participate in any of the preparation, it felt as though I was part of the team right from the start. At the same time, it was a surreal feeling to walk into the house where I frequented during that ten-days stay back in 2012, and see that absolutely nothing in the house has changed and the painting I gave to the LSBC missionaries was still on display on the wall. That was when I first told God I would return some day, and now here I am!
In my short two days in Liquica, this encounter with a man that brought along four children and a machete to the beach where we stayed imprinted on my mind. His name was Marshall. I was minding my own business during our free time in between appointments when he walked over to greet me. Thanks to the extended hangout time with the Pohnpeiians, the presence of the machete really did not bother me. I think I would have even asked Marshall to cut a coconut for me if there were one lying around. While chatting in an awkward mix of Tetum and English for about an hour, I would briefly introduce whoever in the team who came close or walked by. When asked the reason for their visit, I told him that they came to teach, do house visits and pray for the sick. That was when I saw rays of hope radiating from his countenance like never before. I may be exaggerating, but you get the idea. He asked if we could pray for his mum, who has a tumor on one of her breasts. Before our conversation arrived at that point, I already saw the door of access from afar. Yet when the question ensued, my spirit man still could not help but literally leapt. When I say literally, I seriously mean literally. This spirit man of mine is beyond maintenance.
Long story short, only half the team followed Marshall to his house to prevent any unnecessary heart attack from the surprise. Half the team meant discounted Tetum proficiency too, because the pro translator was not around, leaving us with two semi-pro Tetum communicators. I am one of the two, unfortunately. Well hey, we deserve some brownie points for trying so hard, don’t we? We spent half the time praying for the mum and the other for Marshall and his brothers. It was no coincidence that all or almost all the brothers happened to visit the mum that very day, albeit they stayed in different places and have different schedules. In fact, Auntie Cheh Hoon felt that it was actually more of a divine appointment for the brothers, which I agreed. Interestingly, furthermore, that family of brothers were all smart and influential people - Marshall worked in one of the government agencies, whereas two of his brothers and even his wife, were police officers! Imagine the magnitude of their spheres of influence! After Marshall said the sinner’s prayer, his face lit up alongside a new found desire and hope as he told me that he wanted to learn more about how to follow Jesus. There I was, seated face to face with the beauty and goodness of the gift of love and salvation.
Here is a happy shot of half the team with the family of Josephs:
Now, I look forward to meeting the second team in less than two weeks’ time, especially Tan Ah Lyn.