World: Lessons of the World

New friends

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WORLD. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

WORLD

I admit it. When I was a girl, I thought it would be cool to travel the world. I wasn’t sure how it would happen, but I dreamed of the experiences and seeing different places. I am pretty sure I idealized what it would be like to meet new people, live in different cultures and see amazing sights.

God didn’t have plans for me to make a trip around the world, but He’s given me opportunities to see certain parts of it.

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Philippines with a missions team. I was so sure we were there to help them.

Delightful girls

Instead, God opened my eyes to so much more. I have so much materially. The believers I met there have such depth spiritually.

The way they served our team amazed me. Such whole-hearted kindness heaped upon us. In meals served, in meeting our needs. And in letting us come alongside them as they served the people in their communities.

At first, I was uncomfortable as I watched the people of the towns we visited. They loved us with simple abandon. They shared pieces of their lives with us. I tried not to share too much of my life in the respect of how much our family is blessed with. But I loved sharing lessons God was teaching me. And hearing theirs.

Special family

In that part of the world, families sometimes live in small shacks that sit next to mansions. My family is blessed with a moderate-sized home, according to US standards. As I shared pictures of my family, I included a dark photo of Peter crawling up a step. One lady commented about how big my home was. Her words played me. Never mind the fact that she couldn’t see the second story of our home in the picture.

God has given us much. I am convicted to realize I don’t use it all as wisely as I should for His glory. I am sometimes selfish with what He’s given us . . . when really? I should follow the example of the Filipinos I met and share lavishly, love lavishly.

Special friend

Even after all this time, I need to cultivate a heart that sees others’ needs . . . not just physically, but spiritually. A heart that sees the richness others have, in spite of physical circumstances.

~~~

Wow, that time went fast! Finishing up here: It’s so easy to want to look for things that are common in our physical world, but really, God has given His children more commonalities in what we yearn for and how we worship. He’s given us similar desires to follow hard after Him.

My too-short time in the Philippines changed me in terms of how I view life and all God’s given me, and most Americans. May we not become so caught up in how things look on the outside—both for us and for those in other parts of the world—that we miss the beauty He’s crafting on the inside. 

What about you? What have you learned from other cultures? If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—World

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22 thoughts on “World: Lessons of the World

  1. We sponsor a little boy in Ethiopia and I am confronted by the reality of my material wealth every time I get an update about him or send him a letter. I complain about my lack of finances all the time, but really…I am blessed. So blessed.

    Thanks for opening this door into your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marie, I know. We’re trying to help our boys understand how incredibly much they have. Sometimes, doors open to talk about the children we sponsor in India and Uganda. It almost always makes me stop and realize how much God has given us, and what my perspective should be. Not wanting more, but being willing to give more. We truly are blessed!

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  2. Love reading about your trips. I have never been outside the United States and Canada. I would love to go to Germany and see all the Lutheran sights. But my dream trip and location would be Ireland. I just think it’s such a pretty place. Visiting from FMF where I’m #8 this week!

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    • Tara, I’d love to visit Ireland too, one day. My in-laws lived in Germany for a few years, and hubby and I went over to visit a few times. I loved it. Seeing the Alps, which look craggier than our Rockies, seeing the green, hearing the language and trying to grasp a few words of the language . . . I hope you get your dream and get to do some traveling.

      I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  3. Nice post! I was wondering how you’d approach it, and was not disappointed.

    What have I learned? First and foremost, that people are pretty similar the world over, that the vast majority just want to live their own lives by their own lights.

    I learned that being a mercenary is not all that different from being a missionary, when people look to you for protection.

    I’ve learned that kindness is a universal language, and that while not all humor translates, there’s a basic and earthy level that enjoys a sincere laugh from everyone.

    I’ve learned that I like indoor plumbing, but that the lack thereof ]should not lead me to underestimate my opponents, and that they may be more cultured, intelligent, and tenacious than me.

    I’ve learned that the rest of the world carried AKs, and while it’s nice to be loyal and use made-in-the-USA personal weapons, when you’re boots-in-the-mud and outnumbered, it’s better to sound like one of THEM.

    Where would I like to go? Moot point. I can’t even go to McDonalds. But if…well, I’d stay here. I used to have a bucket list, but the bucket’s got a hole in it, and it’s leaking time. I’ll enjoy the life I live, and love.

    And let the world pass me by.

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    • Andrew, you’ve learned deep lessons. It’s interesting to me that, in general, it seems like Americans think other peoples are so different from them. But you’re right, on a core level, we are all very similar. I guess maybe that comes from being made in the image of God, huh? Your other lessons make a lot of sense as well. I always appreciate reading your perspective, as it’s so unique.

      You may think the world is passing you by, but you’re definitely leaving your mark on it. On the hearts of people.

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  4. Hi Jeanne. It’s fun being your FMF neighbour today 🙂 I went to Lebanon when I was a university student one summer and worked as part of a missions team at an orphanage. The kindness, hospitality and community spirit was the beautiful witness they gave to us and we had a lot of fun sharing songs and learning tiny bits of Arabic while the kids easily outshone us with their knowledge of English!

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    • Lebanon! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live there. What a unique experience that must’ve been! I had to smile when I read that the children knew more English than you did Arabic. Kids are amazing at picking up languages! 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your experiences and for stopping by!

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  5. I so was blessed in reading this post this morning. I am finding as well there is a depth of spirituality which comes from being solely dependent on God for your every need. So important to focus on missions as it truly does change us! Visiting from #fmf this morning & am most grateful I did! Blessings!

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    • Joanne, thank you so much for stopping by! Years ago, hubby and I sat under a pastor who really challenged my thinking. He told us we didn’t see God do miracles here because we don’t need Him. So, we don’t depend on Him. If we have a headache, we go to the store and buy some aspirin. Someone in a third world country needs Him in ways we don’t, and He’s always faithful to show up. When we learn to depend on God for everything, we grow in intimacy with Him.

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  6. Was in Venezuela on a missions trip. At a Sunday service I watched teens and 20 year olds worship in abandon and total joy. It brought tears to my eyes. These people had so little, yet what they had, they shared. Came home with a deep sense of how prosperous we are, and yet how rich they were. They KNEW the Lord! Good memory Jeanne.

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    • Watching—and participating—with people as they worship moves me deeply. And to see young people worshiping with abandon? Oh, that moves my heart to tears. It seems like it takes visiting a third-world country to truly realize all we have materially. And it takes eyes of faith to see the richness others have, in spite of physical circumstances. 🙂

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  7. Jeanne,
    what a beautiful post. It’s true that we feel educated and often we have so much to learn. I noticed how absolutely curly your hair is (as I have that same gifting) and how we usually choose photos of ourselves stateside that don’t show it.
    Perhaps when we are allowed to be ourselves, we are more free. We care about who we are instead of who we project to be.
    That in our hearts, we are the same, whether born in America or American Samoa. That our God placed us where He best sees us used, yet He tenderly teaches us from other places.
    You are so transparent and I love this! 🙂
    Thanks for visiting me as well!
    Love,
    Tammysincerity

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    • True confession, Tammy. My hair is uber-straight. I used to perm it with tight curls, and they’d relax almost completely within a few weeks. I did this before going to the Philippines because I didn’t want to hassle with hair in my eyes all day long! I was (and still can be) such a vain thing. I’ll try not to envy you your natural curls. 😉

      I loved what you said about being more free when we are allowed to live who we truly are. Not projecting an image of who we think we should be. It seems like many people in other parts of the world don’t feel as strong a need to do this. They just are who they are. 🙂

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  8. Jeanne- I loved what you learned from your visit to the Philippines – that we all have things to learn from one another and ways to bless each other. The bigness of the world helps put our problems in perspective. And that brings much freedom. I love the pics and your encouraging message- but mostly I love your heart for God. Your place is always a blessing, friend. 🙂

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    • You’re so right, Karen. Our perspectives shift when we realize how much bigger the world is than our limited understanding of it, of our lives. When our perspective is straight, it helps problems not to overwhelm us, doesn’t it? At least most of the time, for me. 😉 Thanks for your kind words. I love your place too. You always make me think.

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    • Thanks, Lisa. It’s not my continual mindset, but God’s working it in my slowly. Especially as our boys grow older. I so want them to know how much of the world lives. And I pray we all would have hearts that desire to see more people come to know Jesus.

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  9. Jeanne, your experience is the most common response heard from people returning from mission trips, especially first timers. We go there thinking we’re going to help, but return with so much more than we bargained for. I worked with a mission in Haiti that assisted victims of the 2010 earthquake. It was life changing for me. You don’t know resilience until you’ve seen people who have suffered to the extent some of these have simply pick up what’s left and continue living. This mission worked with crush victims, (amputees of the earthquake), and rescued the homeless forced to live in the Cité Soleil slum. I quickly realized that people who have nothing, have nothing to get in the way of their relationship with God. They possessed a ” peace that transcended all understanding.” They had what I’d been searching for all my life. While there, a hurricane hit washing away tent villages and all their belongings…the people just took it in stride as they waded out into the flooded countryside and recovered what they could. In spite of all their hardships those Christian Haitians maintained the joy of the Lord. I was actually embarrassed to return home to all my “stuff.” I’ve never viewed life quite the same since then, I was truly humbled and blessed as a result of that mission. Thanks for reminded me!

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    • How can you not be changed when you work with people who have nothing and find a way to thrive? I love your perspective here, Gene. And this? “I quickly realized that people who have nothing, have nothing to get in the way of their relationship with God.” Truly convicting. But it lines up with what I’ve heard from many who have spent more than a couple weeks working in missions settings around the world.

      Thank you so much for adding your thoughts here! They’re much appreciated!

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