So I hit a chicken the other day.
I mean it was only a matter of time before one of us (me) hit something, and honestly, I’m sad for said chicken (may he/she rest), but I’m glad it wasn’t a dog or a human or a cement wall.
Let me just paint a little picture for you:
Imagine your large driveway is a two way road. Now imagine that on one side of this very narrow two way road is a steep ditch with a stream, many trees and random items (think tables and trash and metal poles). Now imagine the other side of this road being lined with shops and food stands and random vendors. And people drive their cars and trucks and motorbikes and SUVs to these shops and stands and park there or gather around each other and bleed into the road, taking up well over half this teeny tiny road. Now add a couple dogs sleeping in the middle of said road, some chickens and several cats. Oh, also, sharp curves and turns.
Now imagine you’re driving on drivewayroad, and you’re already a touch tense because you’re so focused and you’re on the opposite side of everything using your opposite hand to operate your 2,000 pound machine called a car. Add a couple cars following behind you and a few motorbikes coming toward you in the opposite direction. And to your right is one of those food stands with many people congregating, spilling out into drivewayroad.
Lastly, add one chicken directly in front of you, seemingly unfazed by all this activity and immanent death.
Okay, driver. What do you do?
Well, let me just tell you, from recent, personal experience, you first mentally encourage the chicken to move the h out of the way. Why? Because you’re not a murderer. Because you don’t want to hit someone’s pet/livelihood. Because you really don’t want to go home and have to tell your husband that you hit a chicken.
As you approach stupid stationary chicken, you began to realize that a.) you cannot swerve because you will go into a ditch or into people and people are always worse to hit than chickens, b.) you cannot slam on your brakes because there are cars following behind you and they will slam into your car, and, possibly worst of all is c.) your window is down (which doesn’t happen a lot because it’s hot as Satan’s mouth and you like AC), so the many people congregating around the shops can see you: you cannot hide behind your tinted windows, White Woman.
So, you brace yourself, and you hit the chicken.
Now, if you’re talented like me, you try and get the car directly over the chicken so there’s a chance it will not be killed, maybe just maimed, by a wheel.
For me this looked like: accepting chicken-hitting reality, bracing myself, centering car so chicken would be in the middle, going over chicken and hearing a bang a cluck-like noise and, as a cherry on top, a man on a motor bike passing me yelling “OOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIIYYYYYYYYYY!”.
I then speed as fast as I could into our neighborhood as I was sure this was illegal and I broke some Thai law and since my window was down and it was the middle of the day they all saw me and were coming after me and I would end up in jail and my baby would be born and taken away from me and we’d get expedited and then Venture would fire us and Stephen would divorce me.
I got home and told Stephen what happened, shut the curtains and, hand to Heaven, every time I hear the sound of a motorbike my heart stopped as I waited to be taken away. I also told him that we have to move. Or get a new car. Whichever seemed most doable.
Needless to say, I have not gotten arrested. And I made Stephen drive us back and check the road and there were neither feathers or blood, so I’d say for the first hit, we did okay.
Before we came, a missionary here gave me some great advice. She said to bring lots of things from home that would make me/us feel like this really is home. Think photos and special little things and candles and wall hangings. I took that advice to heart (Stephen was a little more reluctant, “Babe, I love you, and this makes sense in theory, but the antique window for the wall? Really?”). One of the things I brought with us is an antique clock my mom gave me that was my grandma’s. It was little, super cute, and something unique and special.
When we moved into our house here, the kitchen wasn’t finished. That said, our only bookshelf doubled as food/kitchen storage until this last week. It was packed full of the normal stuff like pictures and books and the boys’ toys, and then was loaded with glasses and paper towels and bowls and chips.
It wasn’t always easy to see where things were and the easiest way to grab stuff.
My clock was on a shelf with the paper towels, blocked by a picture frame. So when Stephen went to put the paper towels back, he pushed the picture frame further back to make room and, just like that, my special clock fell six feet onto our tile floor and shattered into a million little shards.
He felt so bad.
Like, I was more sad about his reaction than the clock. Whatever for me about the clock, right? Like, yes, I loved it and it was obviously important enough to bring all the way around the world, but it’s just stuff. For Stephen though, it was one more thing that went wrong that day and this time, it was a something that was potentially taking away comfort from his very uncomfortable wife.
Earlier that day he had intended on getting a cake and some ice cream. He came home two and a half hours later with Diet Coke and rice. Life here is complicated and hard sometimes, and we’re learning the pace and the way to get things done. Things generally take longer, simple errands are not simple because of traffic patterns and opps! we don’t sell ice cream on Thursdays and it’s the King’s birthday day so we’re closed and no! this road is closed today.
So when the clock broke, the clock that took up room in our precious luggage and I was so excited to set up on the shelf he built me, he teared up and apologized profusely and felt like he couldn’t get anything right.
We had the chance to go to HOSEA Center a couple weeks ago. In the midst of all this chicken hitting and clock breaking.
We weren’t there super long, and we didn’t teach or do anything spectacular. We were just there, spending time with the kids, letting them feed Shepherd all the things we never give him and letting the older girls touch my belly and watch their faces light up when Inside Baby kicked or moved.
But it was enough.
The Bible and the Christian community are funny how they often don’t major on the same things. One of those things is the ever elusive calling. We as Christians spend so much time worrying about finding our calling, discerning the call God has on our lives, asking others to speak into our call. I spent the majority of my late teens/early twenties agonizing over my calling. Should I go to Seminary? Should I major in Youth Ministry? Should I be a missionary? Should I get married? Should I drink? Should I work at a camp?
And the thing was, everyone around me was doing the same thing.
And one day, I don’t remember when, probably when I calmed the heck down and actually listened to God, I heard Him clearly say, just do what I’ve already told you. He told me this while I was reading the Sermon on the Mount. Right. That made sense. I mean, there’s a ton in there we can do, and if I’ve done all that, then maybe I could ask Him for a Katie Specific thing to do. But for right now, He was telling me to just do what He had already asked.
It was so freeing.
Discerning our call is a good thing. Figuring out where our passions and gifts and the needs of the world all align is a treasure to be sure. And it’s an even bigger treasure when we get to do those things as an actual vocation. But I know for me and tons of my peers and lots of younger people, the emphasis is put on the call, not being obedient to God. We think we can’t move ahead or do anything until we see it written across the sky or someone comes up to us with a word. I feel like God has given us, His Church, plenty to do. So we should do it. Assume doing Kingdom work, however big or small, is a yes until it’s no.
Through a strange series of events, God made it clear that one of the calls on my life is to do international mission. It wasn’t written across the sky, rather it was woven throughout my life and made itself clear through a series of many, often small and seemingly insignificant, ‘yeses’ to Him. What did God say? Do it. Repeat.
The call on our family’s life is international mission. And as we’re dealing with culture shock and homesickness (chickens and clocks and needing to pump ourselves up to go driving or grocery shopping or wow, I miss the HealthEast midwives), there’s something bigger acting as a buoy. And that’s the call.
We said a million time before we left home that we knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but the ease of saying yes to doing this was evidence of the call. The fact that we left in the first place, the fact that while there seem to be a million frustrating things about this place (why U turns? how is that more efficient?) we still, in the middle of all of it, actually do love it, all of that is evidence of the call.
Being at the center and watching my son watch the children he will grow to love and know and be able to speak to fluently with long before I can, that affirmed the call.
Watching a shy, tentative girl test me and my boundaries by asking to touch my belly, the belly containing another missionary who will grow up alongside her, and my heart wanting nothing more than to fold her into my arms, that’s affirmation of the call.
Driving into the village where the center is and just praying over her people because man, it’s dark and it weighs on our hearts every single day, that’s evidence of the call.
Stephen and I dreaming about Inside Baby being born and being able to start language school so we can have more than just short conversations with our neighbors, so we can actually get to know the cooks at the stands we go to each day, that’s evidence of the call.
Chickens will get hit. Clocks will break. But our call? That’s unshakable.
So we will keep driving, keep dealing with missing the comforts of home, and we will rest on the buoy of the call knowing that chickens and clocks will always come and go, no matter our physical location.