There are moments when it sinks in that we actually live in Mongolia. This week on my way home I walked through the town square. Located high on a hill, you can see the whole town and surrounding countryside for miles. It occurred to me the privilege we have of living in a far away land, learning an exotic language and living among a people rich in culture, history and hospitality. Did you ever think of living abroad, perhaps imagining yourself the American in Paris, on a cobblestone street, contributing to their society and being the object of their children's attention?
In many ways our life is like this. Americans appear to be some of the most adored foreigners in Mongolia. It's strange to live in a land where strangers don't speak to one another, but speak to us all the time, (many times in our language) smiling at our kids, trying to get their kids to talk to ours. The attention is nice most of the time. It's what I imagine being a celebrity would be like. I was just thinking that not everyone gets to experience this and it's something special.
But this kind of romance wears off eventually. When it does, I have to again remember our purpose here. It is bigger than being a curiosity, or being curious about these people, their country or culture. Our purpose is to bring glory to Christ helping his church to change lives all over this part of the world until He comes again. As lofty as that may sound, there is only one step before us now, one Holy Order to carry out: Learn the Language.
As often as we crave for something more helpful, more meaningful, more glorious to do, the same work order comes back to us: Learn the Language.
How do we do that? By studying, yes. But moreover by living here, working, playing, shopping, cleaning, cooking, talking, complaining, suffering, thinking, dreaming...in Mongolian. When you break it down into these ordinary daily activities, Life abroad doesn't seem so romantic.
Life in Mongolia is still just life. But when we remember why we're living abroad, purpose to all the little things returns and the weariness of studying in this stage of life is relieved.
So what's your purpose? Is it to love and train people for a life of purpose, and life that matters? Maybe it is to shepherd a people - at work, church, or at home to their highest and best potential. Is it your purpose to bring glory to Christ? Maybe your purpose involves a simple but wearying task. It could be as simple as reaching out again in faith to a loved one or friend, or letting one go by that same faith. The Romance of Life is about putting forth your full effort and resting in God's ability. For us the path to our potential passes through our task for the remaining year: Learn this language!
Is there a seemingly insurmountable task in your life you need to face with faith and proceed toward fulfilling your purpose? I think there's a clearer longer look at a Life of Glory and Romance ahead for all of us. Our way may pass through a difficult thicket or bog, but it nevertheless is passable with our faith fixed on Christ and his purpose for us in eternity.