Monday, December 29, 2014

What is Deputation?

Often, when people ask me "what I do" for a living, the next question is, "what's that?" Deputation is a strange word to most ears. Some missionaries call it pre-field ministry while others opt for the more understandable term support-raising. But what, exactly, is deputation?

The root word for deputation is deputize. According to Webster's dictionary, deputize means "to empower to act for another, to appoint as deputy." We all know what a deputy sheriff is. He's the guy that the sheriff enlists to help him get the bad guys, or in a more literal sense, to help him do his job. In a sense, every Believer is a deputy of Christ, sent and empowered to do the work of Jesus Christ. 

Michael and I are on deputation. This means that we in a period of time where we visit churches, asking them to empower us to act for them on the mission field of Georgia and to appoint us as their deputy. It is the church's job to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel." (Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8) Therefore, we are simply enabling churches (bodies of Believers) to fulfill the command of Christ to be witnesses to the whole earth. Pretty cool, really.

What do we do, practically speaking?
Well, we research churches in different areas. Then, Michael calls churches and pastors, trying to schedule meetings and make a database of contacts to work from. We travel to churches and present the ministry. We attend mission conferences. We teach Sunday schools, Bible clubs, and junior church, and help out churches in their regular ministry or whatever they have need of. Michael preaches, I sing or play violin. We meet lots of people. We spend a LOT of time in the office or on the road.  Sometimes, especially in the fall or early spring, it seems we live out of our car.  When we are home, then I have unpacking, laundry, repacking, shopping, and preparing for the next trip. (Right now, we are also preparing to move to a bigger apartment to make room for baby Hinson.) It's a crazy way to live, but a good one; for we are serving the Lord and doing His will for us right now. Really, I wouldn't trade it for a quiet, boring, "normal" life. Not at all!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lonely for a Helpmeet

Being married is teaching me so much, and I am so grateful for the things I learned working with my dad, brother, and other guys as a single woman. Guys are so different!

I have felt like a horrible wife lately. Pregnancy has been hard on me, and many times I
have trouble doing more than reading a book in bed. My husband brings me breakfast in bed, goes off to work at 8:00, comes home at 5:30, makes dinner, washes the dishes, and shifts the laundry. Me? I'm resting; all day, most of the time. Some days are better than others and I'm able to do more, it just depends. So, I do absolutely "nothing" while my husband "does it all." Yet he is more than happy to do it. I don't get it. It seems strange to me that not once does Michael complain about my lack of activity. Rather, he often holds me close when I'm not feeling well and tells me to rest as much as I need.

Finally, curious about this so obviously unbalanced yet seemingly welcomed arrangement, I decided to ask Michael about it.

"Michael, why do guys like you want to get married so badly?"

His answer came quickly, almost without thought: "So we don't have to be lonely."

Understanding dawns.

Michael didn't marry me to be cared for. He can make meals, keep house, and do laundry all by himself. He didn't get married to have a family with several kids- that's okay, but it rates far under getting married, perhaps even in a different category all together. He married me so he wouldn't be alone.

If I had thought about it more, I would have seen this is the case in the heart of mankind from the very first wedding. God says that it is "not good for man to be alone. Let us make an helpmeet for him." The opposite of helpmeet is not incomplete or incapable, but lonely. Adam was intelligent. He had a job. He had everything he needed, except a friend. Eve was created to be his friend. His confidante. His love.

And so am I.

I must strive to be the best friend I can be. That doesn't mean I have to work myself crazy trying to clean the house or make meals, because that's not what my husband needs (some men might, but not mine). He needs me to welcome him home with a hug and a kiss, to literally be there for him, to listen to his struggles with ministry or other decisions, to sit with him on the couch. I want to be the kind of woman that Michael could say "My heart safely trusts in her." That's what I'm to be. His helpmeet.

Friday, October 3, 2014

As long as God is Faithful...

Have I fallen off the edge of the world? No; although my parents call us every once in a while to make sure. It's a different world being married and traveling on deputation, and I'm still learning to juggle it all. However, the Lord told me it was time to get back to the blog and share with you what the Lord has been teaching me.

As long as God is Faithful, I'll be okay.

And He is. Always. Faithful.

When the days drag into weeks and I begin to wonder if we'll ever get to sleep in our own bed again...

When I'm at the end of a mission's conference and still need to keep a smile, sing a solo, and minister to a church...

When we've traveled all day, I'm feeling sore and car sick, and it's time to give a testimony...

When I realize, once more, that I've put my foot in my mouth and my husband graciously moves on...

God is faithful.

He never leaves. Yes, I admit, I'm not as faithful to Him. Marrying a missionary and doing full-time ministry doesn't make me some kind of super Christian. I wish. But more and more, it seems quite the opposite. Ministry shows me my shortcomings. My pride. My wrong focus. Yet God, again and again, is willing to point out my sin, extend mercy and forgiveness, and then give me grace to carry on. Isn't that amazing! Even when I fail and selfishly choose to focus on myself instead of God, He will take care of me.

Cumberland Island, GA

I am so grateful for a God that loves me and is continually faithful. Yes, as long as He is faithful (which is always), everything will be okay.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Our Love Story- part 7

...I suppose I've held you all in suspense long enough.

So, I had a ring and a date before Michael even proposed. Michael gave me a promise ring that Christmas- a ring that meant he intended to date me with the intent of marrying me, and that he was serious and not just "dating around." As to the date, with Michael going to different churches to present his ministry and try to gain support to go to the country of Georgia, his schedule was pretty booked. He wanted to make sure he scheduled time in for a wedding and honeymoon so we wouldn't have to wait for a year or two.

To make a long story shorter, I'll skip to February.

Michael's mission board wanted me to go to TN to work on our missionary presentation DVD, so Michael asked me to visit for Valentines. (Awww.... isn't that sweet?) I knew he would probably propose during the visit because it was the last time I planned to be "on his turf" until after the wedding, and he had kind of implied that it was his preference to propose to his girl where he could set things up. I didn't try to figure it out or think much about it, because I like surprises. (Don't you?)

When I arrived, Michael said he was needing to schedule our work at BIMI and wanted to know if such-and-such days would work. Then he asked if we could go on one nice date while I was there. (That's usually the terminology he uses when he wants me to be in a nice dress.) He then asked if I would like to go for a walk down by the river one day as well, and I said that would be great. Thursday? Okay.

Thursday before Valentine's day, as we're getting in the car with his mom to go to the river, Michael tells me that this date is special, as my dad had given him permission to take me on a date in a public, well populated place, without a chaperon. So, instead of going with us, his mom just dropped us up and told us to call when we were ready to go home.

It was cold, wet, and ugly out, but it was a lovely walk. Michael kept apologizing for the weather and telling me how much nicer it would be if I could see Chattanooga in spring when all the trees were budding and the flowers were blooming. I like water, and taking a walk by the water is always enjoyable, no matter the weather. Really, I was walking with Michael, without a chaperon, and it wouldn't have mattered the weather or location.

After a walk along the water and the bridge, we went inside a coffee shop to warm up. Michael got me a chair, and brought my coffee, and stirred in the milk and coffee for me. (Awww... isn't that sweet?) Though Michael is typically very sweet, I thought that he was acting a little more watchful, careful; more syrupy than usual. He then said we could warm up again later if we wanted, but there was a garden outside that I just had to see.

Michael is not usually quite that expressively forceful, and I thought, I guess this must be some garden. It didn't cross my mind that it was winter. We walked through the garden, which had some unique metalwork statues and such, and then we got to a water fountain. It had been designed so that it looked like a mini waterfall, and as I admired it, Michael asked if it would be too cold to sit on the rock ledge. No, I didn't think it would be. I sat down, but Michael knelt in front of me on both knees and said...

"Can I ask you a question?"

Yes, of course, I replied.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring. "Will you marry me?" "YES!" I answered. Michael put the ring on my finger, kissed my hand, and helped me up. We walked around the garden some more, hand in hand, as he told me about his love for me and quoted verses to me. We warmed up some and went to dinner.

It was fantastic. Michael had reserved us a table (with candles) at a nice restaurant, right in front of a fireplace. It was early in the evening, and we had the place basically to ourselves, besides the waiter standing in the corner of the room. We talked a couple of hours away. The food was delicious. When it was time to go, Michael called his mom. She picked us up to go home. When we go to the house, Michael delayed a moment, went to his car, and brought me back some flowers. (Awww.... isn't that sweet?) Then we told his family, and they all cheered. Quite literally.

I hope I don't ever forget that evening. It was beautiful. Indeed, God makes all things beautiful in His time.

And that's our story. I hope you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ten days!

The excitement is building. The butterflies are taking up residence. Preparation is in full swing. The candles, the ribbons, the lace, the flowers; everything seems to be heralding the moment that will soon be arriving.

Ten days!

I can hardly believe it. When I think of all God has brought me through, from the happy go lucky kid, to the scared, suicidal girl, to the uncertain teenager, to the confident young lady, and now the anticipating bride, I am humbled at His awesome love. God has been so good. He takes broken pieces and makes something more beautiful than it could have ever been otherwise.

Even now as I sit to write, my mind is swirling with memories, thoughts, and answers to prayer; yet the words escape me. How does one describe the faithfulness of God, the surprises He planned for her as she followed Him, or her excitement in marrying the man of her dreams? Or how can one put into words the look of pride or the tears of joy in her parents' faces as they watch their daughter taking steps of faith to follow the God they pointed her to all her life? How does one begin to share all God has prepared and invested into this one moment, and yet look forward to a future of continued service to Him with another of His servants? What words could tell of the feeling of being totally and completely LOVED, not only by the Creator and Sustainer of life, but also by another faulty human being such as I?

It seems all I can say is, God is good. Yet, that seems insufficient. God is wonderful and awesome, and His plans far exceed anything that could have entered my mind. He loves His children, and loves to give them good things. His secret is with the righteous. He reveals Himself and His plan to those who seek Him. What a God!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Love Story- Part 6

So... this is getting long and drawn out, and I'm sure many of you are wondering if I'll ever finish; especially since I've been busy with wedding preparations and have left off blogging for a time. Well, it is worth the wait. The ending is pretty good! Just let me grab my journal and I'll continue the story.

It is actually quite special to go back and read my journal, as I wrote many times of God's faithfulness, mercy, grace, and blessing. God truly is good to those who seek His face.

Perhaps the next great event to tell you about would be when God called me, specifically, to the country of Georgia. Michael is a missionary on deputation (or, gathering support) to go to the country of Georgia. I have always, it seems, felt the call to the mission field; however Georgia had never entered my mind. Meeting Michael, I knew that if I married him, I would go to Georgia, because my call is to follow my husband, wherever that is. Yet I knew that it would be easier down the road if I knew now, before I went, that God wanted me, specifically and specially, to go to the country of Georgia. That day came in mid-December, shortly after returning from the visit to Michael.

"Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not wither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." John 12:35b-36a

The words seemed to jump of the page at me, as if God had written them with this very moment in mind. Georgia is full of darkness. The people need the light of Jesus, just as I received here in the States. At that very moment, I knew that God wanted ME in Georgia, and not just Michael. That evening, I shared with my burden with Michael, and of course, he was thrilled to hear.

Michael had told my dad and I that he wanted to visit me to get to know me a little better. Unfortunately, I was not living at home with my parents, which could make a courtship difficult. After a little bit of prayer and discussion though, he came up to visit me at my Aunt and Uncle's house where I was taking care of my great grandmother. There were plenty of chaperones to chose from there, so my parents were quite content with the arrangement.

Displaying Barbara's Visit 007.jpg
Michael and I at a concert
December 2013

New Years, perhaps the coldest time of the year, Michael had some free days on his schedule, so he drove up to see me. We went ice-skating, mailed out his prayer updates, put a puzzle together, went on a date, and had all kinds of fun. It rather surprised me, but not in an unwelcome way, that I was so comfortable around Michael. There had never been another guy besides my dad that I am so comfortable with, who makes me feel safe, accepted, and wanted. Michael was more than a "boy-friend." He was a blessing. A confidante'. An encourager. He helped me grow to see God more clearly than before, and to see how God sees me.

Here is an excerpt from my journal just a month later:
"I love so dearly the man God has brought into my life. It really is a blessing to love and to be loved, to have someone to serve along side with me. The friendship we have is so deep that it brings a sense of communion that goes beyond fellowship. It really is nice not to have to travel life's road alone. Thank you, Lord, for such a gift. Words really cannot describe my heart-felt awe and gratitude at your beautiful plan.
Speaking of plans, Michael and I have set a wedding date! It is so exciting..."

No you didn't miss it. We did indeed set a wedding date before Michael proposed. Does that sound odd to you? Well, I guess you'll have to wait until later to find out why...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Love Story- part 5

Michael and I were emailing frequently, and the emails were getting longer. Then we started calling. Not very often at first; maybe once a week as I remember; and those quickly grew from a twenty minute chat to an hour and a half talk. It was truly amazing to me how fast time would fly when I was talking with Michael. I knew things were getting serious when he asked me to look at his mission board's website, and then to fill out an application and send it in.

Michael's mission board, BIMI, lost no time in figuring out what was going on and getting my application through quickly. BIMI only receives candidates twice a year, and they wanted me at the earliest time possible; and asked me in mid-October to get my application in by the end of the month to be reviewed the first week of December. Whew! What a hustle. And so, I was invited to their candidate school in December, just forty minutes from Michael's house.

Hmm. That's handy.

Michael and I had not spent much time together in person, and we were both a little nervous to meet. Nervous may be the wrong word. I wasn't worried about meeting Michael, but more, what to do when I met him. We were just good friends at this point, and nothing more, but we both knew this could be the beginning of something more. I had talked to him at church, and camp, and at my grandparents', but we both knew this was different. How does one greet a friend in such a situation?

December came quickly, and I flew down to Chattanooga. We said hi, I met his mother, he took my luggage, and we got in the car. It wasn't awkward at all as I thought it would be. The first few days, I met his family. Then it was time for candidate school. Michael took a lot of teasing! He was invited to attend classes with me, and the staff was a jovial group. The more we got to know each other and spend time together in class and out of class, I knew for sure that Michael was the guy for me.

Later I found out that my daddy had talked to Michael and asked him when he would propose, but Michael said he wanted to get to know me a little in person first, and wouldn't ask me in December.

But... he did want to ask me something.

Thursday evening, we sat in a couch at the end of a frequented hallway. We talked for a little bit, but then we exchanged Christmas gifts. I had gotten Michael a country girl to her boyfriend type gift- a pocket knife. But I was quite surprised when Michael started quoting verses to me and gave me...
a ring!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Love Story- Part 4

So I'm a little behind. Sorry all y'all.

Michael had stayed with my grandparents on the way home from Montana, and we had visited a little bit. He had told me he would pray for me as I finished up college classes, and I would pray for him on deputation.

It didn't take long for things to accelerate. Actually, it's quite comical to go back and read our emails, as they were a little awkward at first. We continued writing every couple of days or so; and just about a week later, Michael asked to send me the materials he sent to churches to see what I thought. It was quite a shock to me, and I wasn't sure what to say, so I told him I would talk to my daddy first, and then let him know.

Then I flipped out and called daddy. And daddy, like any good daddy would, called Michael and asked him point blank what his intentions were. I felt bad for not involving my dad right away, even though we were just friends. We didn't really know each other. After daddy and Michael talked however, Michael and I started emailing almost every day, and with much longer emails. We wrote about our testimonies and major doctrines and a little about our families.

In September, my daddy suggested to Michael that he call me for my birthday, which didn't take much encouragement. It was the best birthday surprise ever! -And the first of many delightful calls.

By this time, I was so distracted in school, that my teacher commented on uncharacteristic spelling and grammar error. My family started to tease me and give me those "knowing looks," and my pastor's wife asked me about the twinkle in my eye. Whether I would have admitted it or not, I was thoroughly enjoying the attention, and I liked Michael just a bit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Love Story Part 3

Back from the final week of counseling at the Christian camp, Michael checked his email.
During our week as counselors I had gotten to learn some about Barbara. I asked [her to write] because I was interested to get to know her a little better. I do remember being impressed by her specifically working with the campers, but also her conversation, deportment, interest in missions and in Biblical truth. Plus I did like talking to her! Honestly I didn’t know if I wanted to court her at that time because I didn’t feel I knew her well enough, but it was a possibility somewhere in my mind. I really wouldn’t have asked unless I wanted to know her more. I can’t say I was thinking too in depth about the email from Barbara. Of course I wondered what she might be thinking. I checked my route back to Tennessee (where I live). Going through Minneapolis would add somewhat more than 100 miles to my trip. Normally I wouldn’t have lengthened the trip, but in this case I decided take her offer just to see her again and maybe talk to her. What I didn’t know was that she wasn’t planning on being at her grandparent’s house when I came through. 
What I had failed to mention, as Michael said, was that I wasn't staying at my grandparents. I just offered him a place to stay, same as I would for any other missionary passing through. I was living at my aunt's house, some 45 minutes down the road. Quite honestly, it had never occurred to me that he might take me up on the offer to see ME, I just figured he'd want a real bed for a night.

A minor catastrophe at my grandparents' brought my mom out on the train for a couple of weeks, and she stayed with them. When Michael replied that he would be through, my mom asked if I was planning on going over there for the night to visit. 

No, I wasn't, and hadn't even thought of it, but, she told me a should, as I would be the only one he knew or that was close to his age. So, I packed an overnight bag and got ready to go to my grandparents for the night. I didn't think I had done anything different, but on my way out of the house, my younger cousins asked "Where are YOU going?" (Maybe I had thought about my appearance... just maybe.)

I had given Michael my mom's phone number so that he could call her and give her an estimated time of arrival and let her know if he needed dinner. But, when he didn't call, my mom asked me to call him to find out his ETA, and give him directions if need be. I wondered how awkward it would be for him to know I was staying there too. I needn't have worried.

It wasn't awkward at all. Michael is easy going, and my mom and grandpa were accommodating and friendly. The four of us sat down in the front room with rootbeer floats, and my grandpa struck up a conversation. It really was a delightful evening. When my mom and grandpa decided to retire for the evening, Michael and I followed suit. He'd been driving for fifteenish hours, and I had a college test in the morning, so we all needed sleep.  In the morning, mom left early, grandpa fixed a lovely breakfast, and Michael and I talked for a little bit before I had to leave for my college test.

At this point, my grandpa, parents, Aunt and Uncle, and cousins were all noticing what was going on, and I thought Michael was impressive and hoped we could become better friends and maybe more, though I couldn't imagine that's what he was thinking. After all, I am a girl...

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Love Story- Part 2

So, where did I leave off? Oh yes, Michael had asked me to write and I was shocked at the idea, amazed that a guy would asked to write me, and freaking out that I was actually considering it.

I mean, I really didn't know this guy from Adam.

I needed advice. I called my mom, but there were some other major family issues going on, and she couldn't really talk. So, I did the next best thing: I called my best friend, Esther. She was more excited that a guy had asked to write me than I was.  As I told her the story, I told her I knew it was crazy; that only God could have done something like this. Unfortunately, though I knew God was in control, and I could see His hand was at work, my mind still battled for understanding. I talked everything over with my friend, from the shock and surprise, to my fears about whether it would turn out right, to trepidation that I would be a burden or distraction to Michael on the mission field. Esther prayed with me and encouraged me to trust the Lord and to wait on Him.

I talked it over with my parents some more, and they thought it would be perfectly fine for me to email Michael (it was just me that wasn't so sure.) My parents said I should offer him a place to stay with my grandparents (who live around Minneapolis, MN) so he wouldn't have to sleep in his car on his way back toward Tennessee.

And, so, wondering what I was thinking, I sent an email to Michael. It went something like this:

Bro. Hinson,
How was camp? I hope you are able to catch up on your sleep! It takes some stamina to counsel at camp 3 weeks in a row.
You said something about going back to Georgia for a missions conference... I don't know how you travel or what your plans are, but my grandparents live right off the freeway in Minneapolis. So, if you are going back by that route, they would be honored to host a missionary overnight. 
A fellow soldier in Christ,

But of course, he was at camp for a few more days, and I had no idea, if, when he got it, he would read it or reply...

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Love Story- Part 1

You may have been wondering why it's been so quiet, and I apologize. It is not because God hasn't been working. He has. He's been doing wonderful things, and I'd love to share with you now, if I may.

The last few months, I've been courted by a young man, and it has kept me pretty busy. As of last Thursday, I am engaged to Michael Hinson, a missionary on deputation (gathering support to go) to the country of Georgia. We plan to marry on July 5th in Montana. God is so good!

Now, with a bomb like that, I know what the next question is, so... here is the story:

Lots of people have tried to hook me up with guys before, and I always said, "There are six billion people in the world; half of them are guys, and I only need one. God doesn't need help. He can bring me a guy from halfway around the world if He wants." However, I never really expected God to do just that.

Last summer, when I returned home for a couple of weeks, a missionary visited our church one Sunday to share his burden for the country of Georgia. Because we both have a heart for the mission field, we talked a little after church. My dad, not knowing that we had met already, introduced us, and then said to him, "you don't have to remember my name, just remember that I'm her dad." I thought this was a funny introduction, but just kept the conversation going without stopping to analyze the situation. 

Then, it just so "happened" that both of us helped staff a Christian camp the very next week. And well... something must have clicked. By the end of the week, he asked to "keep up" with me, and I surprised myself by saying I thought that would be okay. Half way home from the camp, (on an eight hour trip) it occurred to me that he was not referring to missionary newsletters.

My dad had met this missionary when he had visited our church, and knew he went to help out at camp, but to my surprise, he also suspected something else. As soon as I returned home from camp, daddy asked "So, how did it go? How did it go with Michael?" I replied that he had asked to write me; to which I was surprised to hear the response, "good, good, glad to hear it." Apparently, my dad liked the guy.

Michael was returning to the camp the next week, and I returned back to Minnesota with his prayer card. He had asked to keep up, but he had not asked for my email- he left the ball in my court. ALL I had to decide was what to do. I had never written a guy before for anything other than business. Much less, I didn't want to start a "just for fun" relationship, and I didn't know how serious this guy was, missionary or no.

To be continued...