Sunday, February 27, 2011


"Suppose you want to build a tower. You would first sit down and figure out what it costs. Then you would see if you have enough money to finish it. Otherwise, if you lay a foundation and can't finish the building, everyone who watches will make fun of you. They'll say, 'This person started to build but couldn't finish the job.' (Luke 14:28-30)
Mario, Alicia, David, Joe and Vince - 1990 

Yesterday you read about our new building.  Anyone who's ever built before will know that  building involves more than you expected it would.  Each estimate submitted by each sub-contracted builder is submitted  to be attractive.  They tempt us into thinking that we may be able to do what we want for what we expect to pay.

If there's problems (and there's always problems), that estimate  goes out the window and real costs become apparent...and significantly more.

Sometimes the costs are not just financial.

As I've watched the eldership of Junction go through the ups and downs and faith-building exercises of putting up that Center, I have developed a new-found respect for them.  How reasonable they all seemed, so level-headed and able to shoulder the huge amount of reality during the building.  I didn't witness any tantrums or division between them.  It was amazing.

I needed to see this so that I could make the comparison that I am going to make tonight: building costs are always more than you expect they will be.

Today (Sunday) was a typical day of activity and celebration (what I'm supposed to say as a Christian saved by grace) at church.   In reality, it was a reminder to organize certain ministries better (especially for the Diepsloot contingency) and I felt weary at the end of it, and came home a little tired.  Mario and I talked it through, and before a nap, I decided to return to a long-overdue task- typing up policies for our church.

Some days in ministry are electrically charged with the Holy Spirit and as I try to type about them I am at a loss.  This was not one of those days.  Typing up policies is not what I came here for.  It was a mundane task, dry... but necessary.

It is days like this that I ask the dreaded question: What am I doing here?

That question is becomes heavier when I converse on SKYPE with our pregnant daughter, Alicia, in the States.   When we talked today, her morning my night, I hung up and cried.  I can hear the pain in her voice as she tells me that everyone goes through their pregnancies with their mother near by.  I see tears well up in her eyes and see Harmony actively bouncing around in the background.  I am aching to hold both of them.  There is a lot of underlying things...

It is further weighted down by my ordering a birthday e-card tonight for David and Lennae's youngest, Lauren, who barely knows me.  Her mother, my daughter-in-law, Lennae,  reminds her of who I am and buys the girls their favorite books with the Amazon cash we send for birthdays and signs the inside cover from me and Mario.  It makes me tenderly thankful  when I realize how she wants the girls to know us.  We haven't seen them for two years.

The question is even further weighted down by not being able to get ahold of Vince, who is most likely sleeping or working.  His schedule is gladly interrupted to talk to me, and he writes instant messages so creatively and full of life that I know that the acorn hasn't fallen far from the tree.  Still, it's been crickets when I've tried to reach him this week....

Even further weight on the question is missing Joe, who just had a long conversation last night with Mario.    I slept through the one-hour exchange last night, from the son who has been weathering his own changes in his life.  He's fiercely private with his heart, and when he comes clean to us, it's like an ocean of emotion.  I missed it, and Mario's description of the call was "Wonderful".  Cricket, details.  Prodding only makes it worse.

As we were driving home the other day, I asked Mario what he would think if I blogged about "the kids".  He thought, then said "They probably won't like it."  It may be true... but it may not be.  Sometimes the things I have to give them are only encouraging words, and this is the way I know how to love them.

Being here, as people with a calling to Africa, specifically here in South Africa, there are two questions we have to consider: "Am I really called by God to be here?" (and since the answer is yes)  The next question is "Will I stay and finish what I've begun?"

That question has to be answered everyday....