Monday, July 21, 2008

Donkey Pancakes

Families are sort of like belly buttons. You tend not to appreciate them until you can’t see yours anymore.

While we were in the states before leaving for Zambia I tended to take for granted that there are people in this world who actually know just about everything there is to know about me, and yet who still love me anyway, people that are fully aware that I tend to forget things and that I can be self-absorbed and impatient and that I’m not usually the chattiest fellow around.

Families have a way of accepting us, quirks and all, simply because they love us and because we’re a part of them. Despite our many and varied weirdnesses they realize that they are incomplete without us just as we are without them and its very easy to forget that acceptance like that is hard to come by.

With our baby on the way, I’ve thought a lot about family lately. The last two weeks for us have been a great time to re-connect with our families and we are trying our best to push any thoughts out of our heads regarding having to say good-bye once again this fall. We’ll cry that river when we come to it.

I heard a great story the other night over dinner at the Cracker Barrel. A friend, who raises miniature donkeys (and I admit – I had never heard of miniature donkeys) was telling us about a mother donkey who had rejected her baby (and forgive me for not being up on the technical mother/baby donkey terms).

As the story goes, our friends had washed the baby donkey with some iodine because it had a rash. Afterwards the mother rejected the baby and would have nothing to do with it. They tried everything to get the scent off the baby donkey, including covering him with molasses. Nothing worked and after their failed attempts the donkey was not only orphaned, but in danger of being put on someone’s pancakes.

Until one day the mother donkey and the baby donkey got caught in the rain together. After being stuck in a downpour, apparently the human/iodine/breakfast table smell was gone, and the mother took the baby back, as if nothing had ever come between them.

All because of a little rain.

I thought about all the storms our family has been through together and realized that we weren’t much different from those donkeys (now that’s a sentence I never imagined I would write!). We’ve had our share of rain, but in the end we seem to be better off for it, simply because we were in it together.

And that’s the way it is with missions.

Missions is really just a matter of us realizing that we and the churches across the pond are the same church, the same big, weird wonderful family, and realizing that if the church over there is caught in the proverbial rain, whether it be the rain of poverty or of disease or simply a need for training and education, then we ought to go and help them out. It simply won’t do for us to pretend as though we don’t recognize them or that they’re not us, because they are – and we’re them.

As Paul says regarding the collection for the famine struck church in Jerusalem, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality” (2 Cor. 8:13-15).

And we just might find that when we stand together in the rain, that we too come out smelling a little better than we had before.

Not to mention it’ll save us from having to pick donkey hair off our pancakes.


Nate said...

I'm so glad you blog. You are an artist.

Jerry and Paula Ireland said...

thanks so much are too kind! Glad someone is enjoying my scribbling.