“The Kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and saved in his field. It is the smallest of seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32
I'm impatient when it comes to gardening. I’ve killed many plants thinking that overwatering and overexposing them to sunlight will make them grow faster. One time, my cousin and I saw these beautiful, juicy-looking persimmons in my yard. They weren’t yet ripe, but we decided to pick them anyways. When we took our first big bite into the plump fruit, it was TERRIBLE. We held our mouths under the faucet for over a minute trying to get rid of the flavor and texture. To this day, I will never eat another persimmon, no matter how ripe or delicious.
When it comes to God’s work, I am always tempted to pick the fruit before it’s ripe. I want to over-water the “Kingdom Seeds” and inject them with growth hormones. I unrealistically expect to witness mustard-seed-to-tree transformation overnight. However, like a skilled and wise gardener, God nurtures his “Kingdom Tree” over time.
When it comes to God’s work,
I am always tempted to pick the fruit before it’s ripe.
My first few weeks in Mori, I felt eager for God to unravel his “big plan” for my time here. I had expectations of missionary work to be exhilarating and life-changing. I even hesitate to call myself a missionary because of my preconceived notions of what a “missionary” should accomplish. Heal people through prayer, check. Establish a church, check. Eradicate global poverty, check.
I was ready for God to bestow upon me some grand vision; how He will use me to accomplish x, y, and z. God was like “…Yeah, no. That’s not how this works.” This tree is only at its beginning stages. I may not ever see its full growth or even its fruits. I recognize that I am only one part of the life cycle of this “Kingdom Tree.” My role may be to plant the seed, or water the roots, or provide the sunlight. Honestly, I am probably just the little worm in the ground, preparing the soil, thinking that the seed is just a big annoying rock obstructing my path.
I am a “go, go, go” type of person, but I am grateful for the chance to gently ease my way into my work here. Within the first two weeks of my arrival, Riverside School slowed down and completed the school year. Carly and I joined the teachers for 10 days school campaigning. Daily, we sweated and walked under the hot sun through various villages, obtaining door-to-door admissions. It was the kind of suffering of love that allowed me to connect with the teachers and learn a few phrases in Telugu.
Carly and I are preparing summer missions teams, which are arriving on May 29th. The Simpson University team will run free medical camps, a group of us will provide children’s ministry at various churches, and Pastor Gerry and Pastor (Dr.) Kay will lead a conference for local Pastors. (More about this to come…)
We have been removing all the old, dusty, bird-nest-infested classroom decorations and designing new classroom banners and posters. I have also started teaching summer guitar and piano classes for 5-7 students. We meet 4 times a week, and alternate instruments daily. I have no formal teaching experience, so I’m figuring it out as I go. When I hear the kids practicing on campus, it sometimes sounds like actual music…I think they are making progress.
Currently, I spend many hours working in the office checking off a long list of small tasks and planning for the next school year. In our down time, Carly, Shreya, and I have been enjoying yoga exercises, eating mangos, and attending weddings/engagements.
Even in the small tasks, I know my work is meaningful because it is for God’s purpose. I am eagerly and impatiently waiting to take a big bite of the “Kingdom Tree” fruit. But, I know that fruit will come with daily dedication. Until then, I will joyfully do the “worm-work” to prepare for a garden that will flourish.