We are almost done with this thing. Or more to the point, God is almost done with it. We have 95% of our monthly support committed, and if you’ve been following our road map progress illustration you may have noticed all the little towns we have stopped in (virtually) along the way. Some are places that have made the news (Paducah, KY) and others are noteworthy only because the exit features a Chick-Fil-A. But others are fun for their names. There is Micanopy and Sparks, Adel, Byron and (oh, there you are) Perry. There is St. Elmo and Ina, Joppa and Metropolis, Ramah (lama ding dong), Colby, Genoa, and Limon. And this is not even the route that takes you through Toad Suck, Arkansas.
A few weeks ago I was looking ahead at what else we might hit along Interstate 20 and I came across the little burg of Kanorado. Yes, that is a combination of Kansas and Colorado and it sits right on the border. Having driven through Texarkana and near Mexicali on our road trip in 2013, I got to wondering how many other places like this exist. So I tooled around our giant USA wall map looking for other portmanteaus.
Yeah, that’s a word. Turns out that combining the names of two or three places to name another location is fairly common and even has it’s own Wikipedia entry. Here is a partial list, and I will let you guess where they are located:
On Monday a few new ministry partners sent us flying right on by Kanorado. In fact, they sent us rocketing so quickly down the road that I felt like doing my best Speedy Gonzalez impersonation. And wouldn’t you know, we landed right in Arriba, Colorado. I am totally NOT making that up. It is Spanish for “up,” which is fairly appropriate, given the altitude. And Speedy was always yelling something like, “Andale arriba!” (roughly translated: “Hurry up!”) I don’t know how to wrap up all this randomness except to say, you are now prepared to do well on Jeopardy! If you win, thank us. If it turns out you (we) are wrong, blame Wikipedia.
We took up archery a few months ago for a variety of reasons, not the least of whom is named Legolas. Also because I needed another hobby that involved shooting stuff. Or maybe it was just that between homeschooling, support raising, and grabbing all the time I possibly can with friends before moving (55 more days), I needed something to fill up my remaining 83 seconds of free time each week.
Actually, we were looking for a sport that a parent and child could do together, one we could pursue for fun without a lot of pressure to aim for the Olympics or wrap our whole life around a competition schedule. It doesn’t hurt that it turned out to be extremely INexpensive. And if we are being totally honest, Katniss made it all look so sexy.
There is something very soothing about a sport that requires a high-level of focus, a string of repetitive and precise motions, and rewards you with a cool “thwack” sound when you hit the target. So this has been something that really clears my head. Cycling does that too, but I traded my “brain spa” solo rides for social rides with a good friend who is like Red Bull for my soul.
So you’re wondering what this has to do with missions work, right? I am getting there. We were aiming for one thing and we got something else entirely.
On New Year’s Eve our archery school hosted a low-key event they called the Fruit Shoot. Bryce, our instructor, pinned apples to the target bags and we had to shoot them. I was hoping for something larger like watermelons or maybe pizza, especially since these were placed at 20 yards and I am used to only shooting from 10. After drilling the backboard a few times and sending an arrow into the woods I figured I was going home with only sore muscles and no hits, but in my third round I hit an apple. I was aiming for the apple in the center and got the one at 10:00 instead, but still, it was a hit.
A few days later I was riding with my Red Bull cycling girlfriend and I expressed the fear that I haven’t let out of the bag much: that I am really inexperienced and am highly likely to totally fail at what I aim for on any given EMI project trip. As always, she had encouraging words, reminding me that my job is just to aim well and do what I have learned to do, then trust God with where the arrows actually hit. While we are thinking we might make one thing happen, HE is in the business of taking our obedience and doing stuff we did not really expect.
I can aim my arrows and follow through on all the motions I have learned thus far: fingers on the string properly, light grip on the bow, shoulders in line, pull with the back, relax to release. I can get it close, but where that arrow actually goes is still a bit out of my control.
So here’s the other fun thing: in the last two weeks since we started practicing out in a field with high-visibility we have met several neighbors who were all like, “Hey! I love archery! Can I come shoot with you sometime?” I am talking about enough people that I thought, “What kind of closet sport is this? Where did you all come from?” And Bryce told us the USA Archery Olympic training center is in Colorado Springs and archery is huge out there, because, you know, moose. It all has us thinking maybe God led us to archery in order to lead us to a lot of new people.
So we will just trust Him with all that stuff. I’m excited because later in the Fruit Shoot I hit the apple two more times. And both times it was the apple I was aiming for.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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