Growing Grace

Every time I walk through my house in Indonesia, I can’t help but look outside. My bunga kertas bunga kertas “paper flower” bush in Indonesia has spilled out from its base, spreading bright pink wispy blooms against my kitchen window.

I forget the English word for this tree. Bougainvillea? I like the Indonesian way to say it better. Much easier to spell.

Well, I planted it. Can you hear the smidge of surprised pride in my voice? Two reasons: (1) I’m not good at planting things; and (2) I’m not good at sticking around to see how they end up.

As the daughter of an Army officer, I spent my entire childhood moving around. The last time I planted a tree was when I got one for an Arbor Day contest, which I then stuck next to the rented house we lived in near Washington D.C. A few months later, we moved. Sixth move. I was 10.

It’s not just my paper flower bush that’s growing like crazy. My mango tree I bought several years ago from a guy on a motorcycle recently popped out juicy mangos. My red banana tree I got from an offshoot of my friend’s tree gave me two bunches this year.

When I planted those trees, I did it with a lot of doubt. I doubted I’d get to live here long enough to see them grow taller than my waist. I doubted that I could do this whole live-overseas-where-even-the-simplest-things-are-so-stinkin’-hard thing. I doubted I could survive taking care of the adorable, but needy, babies I kept having. I doubted, too, that the God who invited me into this mess was really, truly good.

And then I spent nine years on a small island … growing. My hope for vulnerable, genuine friendships grew. My joy in the midst of the hard things grew. My belief in a generous God grew.

This summer, our family is moving to another MAF base in Indonesia—a Borneo town called Palangka Raya. I’ll have to leave my trees behind.

But this time, it feels less like a loss, and more like a gift. I don’t believe anymore that when I leave a place, I’m forgotten, or that my friendships are over, or that God cares more that I’m strong than that I’m loved.

Now I believe in the lingering beauty of spilling-over-into-everything-around-me grace.

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Thank you for the financial support and your prayers that made it possible for our missionary families to serve and survive in isolated communities and practice the love and grace of our Savior with their neighbors. Watch the video and read the testimonies of what MAF accomplished in 2014 with your help: www.2014impact.org.

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