Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Gift of a Listening Ear

One of the greatest gifts I have received is a listening ear, particularly when the one listening also has a caring heart and wise words. As my family and close friends can attest, I process ideas verbally, either through journaling or, better yet, conversation. In fact, if I am "stuck" in a situation, talking about it with someone can clear my thoughts and help me find a solution I would struggle to find otherwise. Since this kind of listening requires time, a lot of energy, empathy, trustworthiness, and tact, it is truly a gift!

Commission to Every Nation (CTEN), our missions agency, has "pastoral care couples," who pray for, communicate with, and visit CTEN missionaries in a given region. Stephen and Tammie, the pastoral care couple for Central America, visited us for several days last week. We first met them in May 2011, when we were in the process of joining CTEN, and saw them on their last visit two years ago (picture) and at our orientation last year. In between, we have appreciated being in touch via email or Skype concerning prayer needs and administrative questions.

During their stay, Stephen went with Fernando to Garífuna Bible school classes, and Tammie stayed at home with me. Baby J thought she was the best because she helped him walk around whenever he wanted:

Tammie and I talked about many topics, from our families, to her travels in this region, to cooking, and to books about Christianity and missions. I especially appreciated sharing with her about being a wife and new mom on the mission field and receiving fresh insight and practical advice about some of my questions and struggles. By the end of our time together, I had more clarity about changes to make and renewed perspective and purpose for this time in life. What a valuable gift!

Tammie giving her time, energy, and kindness to missionary women reminds me of this verse:

"Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people." Philemon 1:7

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