Friday, December 11, 2009

The Christmas Party

We had our big team Christmas party recently.  That second time in a year when we all get together and smile and spend some time.  Actually, there is an improvement.  One couple who are friendly and care about people came.  We invited them home for the night, and they came.  That was fun.  I like people.  I really do.  I like people in my home.  I like to have people with me.  Formal visiting bores me, but I love having people in my home.

We gave them our bed, and we bunked down by the fire in the living room.  I think we figured something out - going to do that again.  Soft firelight dancing on the room, a very warm head by the fire... we slept so well!  I think we'll have a family sleepover there over Christmas break.  #2 has already put dibs out for the place farthest from the fire.  The kid sleeps in shorts with a light blanket only in the middle of winter when snow is piled up outside out house!

But... this team...  I had a hard time seeing them all again.  The first time since the summer conference where we studied transperancy, relationships, and care... this team who did not even bother to contact us during that awful last year.... I still struggle with that.

But today, my husband said something and light went off in my head and I feel .... what?  Better? No, not really.  More understanding?  Not quite. Perhaps more able to grasp and put the whole thing in some perspective.

He said today that our field leader (who did nothing) and our team leader (who has a serious problem with his vision) grew up together and are from the same community. 

Ah!  Light goes on....  I always wondered.  One or the other's reactions I could better pass off as, well, as not everyone is skilled at everything.  People have blind spots.  But both of them.....?  I begged for help for four years, and my own field office did not so much as write an e-mail to see how we were.

But, tonight when I understood the connections there, I can see where the issue of one accepting another's opinion as fact without checking for themselves would come in.  Not that it is right, but I can see it happening.  A high level of trust between the two, so they take each other's word, and neither were here to see, just to hear.  (Oh, it would have been so easy to come here to see, but it was, after all, two hours drive.)

Honestly, for me, I'd be delighted if we had no "team events".  It seems like an contradiction to me to say that word "team".  Now, we've got a great team here, our small team.  Very, very thankful for them.  Yeah, we have one who causes problems, but we still like each other and keep in contact with each other.  But the bigger team events, I think I would be just as happy skipping.

But, God gives us reason to smile.  Our new family was there, and she came up to me and stayed with me.  She said, "I feel like a stranger here, and I don't know anyone, and I feel awkward just smiling and pretending to talk."  Yeah, me too.  So we hung out together, and we visited with our small team and with the one family in our big team who has ever made an effort to be friendly with us.  Ok, I get it that we are foreigners here, a bubble contained in their larger team working for somewhere else, but we are people, too.

And the evening ended with our small team's children singing happily sitting on the floor at the front of the meetings, arms around each other and swaying in unison to carols.  A reason to smile.  We can not change how they act, but we can try to build a family in our own team.  And we can continue to invite others to get to know us.  How wonderful to have this one couple who took advantage of the offer to stay the night.  This morning, we had coffee and breakfast with them and another of our small team's families dropped in, too.  A great relaxed morning.  We thought it was such a great idea that we might make Friday's breakfast days for the group living on this end of town.  Drop the kids at school, and come over for a relaxed breakfast and coffee altogether.

So, I left happy.  But also sad as this lady shared with me quietly about struggles she is having, and I see her not getting the support she needs in her team.  I've asked myself many times since this spring's meetings, "How many will we lose until we get this member care figured out?"

Missions is not all about getting the work done.  It is about caring for people.  After all, isn't that what is supposed to be attractive about us?  The mark of us belonging to Christ?  Then let's get this one skill down then!


Kirsten Nelson said...

I understand completely about member care issues. I don't think people realize the difficulties Ms face, and good member care is critical to retaining families escpecially. We have seen so many great Ms leave when I really believe that they would have stayed with better support. Even we right now feel that stress that screams "Life is so much easier in the States. Maybe we should just pack it up." They say that Christians are the only ones to devour their wounded. So many people going home for "member care" reasons (hush, hush) only to find out they just were not happy and really needed someone to talk to, but we don't find out until it's too late.

Cindy said...

this stirs up some emotion for me, too. it happens on the mission field and in churches here in the states also, painful, but true.
at least when you see it ... it may give opportunity to reach out to someone who is hurting.

we used to have breakfasts with our team in mexico. great bonding!!