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A Proposal

May 12, 2011

Being a foreign missionary by definition means being away from home.  It means being isolated from those you know and love.  Often, as it is in my case, it means being in an inscrutable culture.  Sometimes that’s very hard.  I know it will be lonely at times.  I have experienced twinges of that already.  I will feel the sting of missing out on family events, church events, community events.  Past experience warns me that those far can slip like sand through my fingers, that every day I know them a little less and likewise they know me a little less.  Out of sight can quickly become out of mind, forgotten. Distance breeds disengagement.  When I feel this it saps my ability to focus on the task at hand.

I can just hear some of you indignantly muttering, “That will not happen!”  I know that for the most part it won’t.  But feelings have a funny way of becoming disconnected from knowing.  And most often it’s not what we know but what we feel that gets us in trouble.

One of my intentions in developing this blog is to stave off that disconnect.  To some degree it’s effective, but I believe it could be so much better.  To date this blog of mine has been pretty much a monologue.  I would very much like to turn it into a conversation.  That will involve you doing more than just reading. (Thanks to all, by the way, who have commented from time to time.)

I want to know what YOU are doing.  I want to hear about what’s going on at Zion.  And at VAC.  I want to know what’s happening in Armstrong and in Vernon and in Stonewall and in Winnipeg and elsewhere.  I have no TV.  I don’t get a newspaper.  What media there is here I don’t understand due to the language.  Oh, I could Google any number of websites to find out generalities, but I want to know specifics, what YOUR involvement is and how you’re feeling about what’s happening at home.

And there’s something else.  God reveals many things about Himself to me in many different ways and I want to talk to you about that.   That will be very apparent to anyone who read my last post.  I want to tell you what He says to me and from where.  I want to hear what you think of what I write.  And I want to hear how He speaks to you.  (If any of you think He doesn’t speak to you, let me tell you categorically that He does.  The problem is that you haven’t learned to recognize His voice.)   For years I’ve had wonderful people with whom I could share my spiritual journey and who would talk to me about theirs.  I miss that very much already.

Don’t get me wrong.  Chris and Leslie are wonderfully gracious and I am very much enjoying getting to know them.  And I am beginning to develop relationships with others here that hold out great promise.  But these friendships are in the nascent stage.  We are still feeling each other out and have not yet reached that old T-shirt comfort that only comes with time.   And as most of you know I love to talk and having limited outlets is difficult.

So let me make a proposal.  As I proposed earlier, let’s turn this into a conversation.   It’s really not all that difficult.  I know that for some of you new communication technologies are daunting.  As my children can attest to, some of them don’t really work for me either.  But I know that just about all of you use e-mail.  My address is still the same and unlike snail mail, e-mail gets through to Pierre Payen.  It’s very convenient as it ignores time.  You don’t have to figure out what time it is here and no one has to worry about whether the other is at home or may be sleeping.  And it’s free!  If you want to be a little more personal we could set up an on-line chat.

The telephone works here, too.  It would be really nice to hear a familiar voice from time to time.  Yes, I know that can be expensive.  After all most of you who read my blog are in Canada where telephone service providers are allowed to charge ridiculous rates.  But here in Haiti things are a bit saner in that regard.  As I wrote on a previous post, one can purchase a phone without a contract and purchase airtime minutes at what are very reasonable rates by any standard.  So if you are interested in a conversation you can e-mail me and we can arrange a time to chat.  And don’t ignore my call because a weird number shows up on your call display and you assume it’s some foreign telemarketer.

It need take very little of your time.  There are a whole lot of you and I don’t imagine Chris and Leslie would be too thrilled if I spent all my time on this.  But if some of you take a moment to reach out to me occasionally it will assuredly make me feel you are indeed with me.

Actually Chris, a couple of others and I were discussing just the other day what it must have been like for missionaries before all the communication technologies we now enjoy existed and trips home were out of the question.  It must have been grim at times.

Speaking of communicating, if anyone would like Chris and Leslie to make a presentation to them while they are in Canada, please contact Leslie ASAP at Clean Water at office@cleanwaterforhaiti.org

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