Okay, so I know that verse (Matt. 3:11) is debated about its actual meaning, but it was the first thing I thought of this week as I experienced my “Welcome back to Managua and real life” gift. Only in Nicaragua can a person be literally baptised by fire. I can fully appreciate why my showerhead heater is called a “widow maker.” Do you remember that I told you about it in the first month? Well, this week, it was blissfully cool here with a wonderful breeze (don’t mistake me – still 30s, but with a wind), so I thought a warm shower might be a nice change. B.a.d. i.d.e.a. It started steaming.
I turned it off. I realized it wasn’t steam. Within 5 seconds the entire bathroom was so thick with smoke I couldn’t see. I jumped out the shower, ran out of the bathroom, and as I looked over my shoulder, the whole showerhead was a deep, fiery red. So that was that night. However, this caused a hole in the shower hose that I did not see, so the next day when I got in the shower, I got the entire bathroom soaked. Not a drop on me. Later this week I showered with a gecko. I think I may avoid the shower for a week to play things safe. Stay 100 feet away from me to avoid any smell. Which leads me to a summary of my learnings from 2015. Choose Joy. Even when you’re smelly, baptized by fire, and feeling less than joyful.
While I was at my home church at Christmas, I had the wonderful blessing to be able to prepare and share a message that encompassed my lessons, experiences, and a welcome to the new year. The theme that has continually come up over and over again during my first semester as a missionary teacher has been about choosing joy. I will summarize here:
- Joy is NOT a feeling. You can feel happy, and that’s fine, but happiness is not lasting. Joy is not the presence of happiness- it is a choice to focus on God’s role in the joyful gifts that I am given. It is never only a feeling. It is a choice (such as to participate in joyful worship) and a gift (such as joy in my salvation).
- A huge portion of verses say to be joyful in our King, have peace and joy in our Maker (Psalm 149:2), peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Countless. Always IN God. That doesn’t come from feeling good. That’s choosing to live in joy.
- Teaching is hard. Life is hard. Missions is hard. Schools and organizations are hard. There is so much to get bogged down in, and I can tend to. But asking for the ability to choose joy at each turn is a responsibility and a privilege that I have.
- Sometimes joy looks a lot like happiness – and I am so overjoyed to have been able to be loved and pampered over Christmas, coming back with my suitcases and heart full for another semester.
So, I would like to wish you, not a Happy New Year, but a JOYFUL one! Thanks for all you do and who you are.