My Story Matters (John 4)
I’ve been on the mission field for about 72 hours now, and it still doesn’t feel real. It feels like in 5 more days, I will board a plane and head back home. Except this is home now. (My first day here someone even gave me a welcome home present?????) That hasn’t really sunk in yet. I don’t know when it will, but I’ll keep you posted.
Anyways, work started yesterday, and I’m starting to get a little overwhelmed with all the planning that goes into being a first year teacher. This morning I thought “how did I get myself into this?” And I really think it all starts with Mrs. Wyman.
Mrs. Wyman was my next door neighbor. She has a daughter my age named Melanie, and we were best friends growing up (with the exception of 3rd grade). I met them I was 4 years old. Mrs. Wyman grew up as a missionary kid in Nigeria. She is also the one who first got me interested in language.
I remember when we were really good (or she didn’t wanna hear us beg), she would speak in a Nigerian accent. That was super cool. It was so…. foreign. She also used a video series to teach her girls French, and it always fascinated me. Being able to communicate with a whole other group of people seemed like a super power. Honestly it still does.
Melanie and I ate dinner at each others house’s a lot, but I always ate over there when Mrs. Wyman made orange chicken. Chinese food was my favorite, still is for the most part. They took my to a Chinese buffet once after church. Later that year, I had my 8th birthday party there. (They still mock me for that, and I still stand by it.)
Mrs. Wyman is the first one I remember taking me to see a movie in theaters (Tarzan). She had a “secret” stash of candy that Melanie and I regularly broke into (hello Razzels!) and last time I visited she made crack cauliflower and even though I have NEVER liked cauliflower, I wanted to bathe in the stuff. Never underestimate the power of BBQ sauce, let me tell you.
I also remember eating pizza with them at our neighborhood pool. In all reality, it probably only happened a few times, but in my mind it was an all the time thing because it was the best pizza in the world. They ordered the kind with stuffed crust and with bacon on top from Pizza Hut. My family NEVER did that (we were a faithful Dominos and Ledos family since day one). Now every time I eat stuffed crust pizza, I think of them.
My goal for the summer was to read and journal my way through the New Testament. I read through it, but never actually got around the writing part. That might have been a good thing. Writing my way through Scripture may be good for my first year teaching and my first year on the mission field. So instead of wanting to do it in just a few weeks, my new goal is to write my way through the New Testament this school year. That sounds doable.
I was reading in John this morning, and I had written in the margins of John 4 “my story matters”.
Jesus healed a Samaritan woman at a well. He told her of living water and eternal life. He then told he was the foretold, long awaited Messiah. And to prove it, he told her what was hidden in heart, and she knew what he said to be true. And then it says something incredible:
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
Samaritans meant nothing in Jewish culture, and women meant even less. But Jesus chose to use a Samaritan Woman, of ALL people, to reach a town for his glory. It was SO countercultural at the time. He used even her story- no one would have expected that.
Our stories matter, and God can use them to reach others for his glory, even when we don’t anticipate it. If he could use a Samaritan Woman’s, I know he can use mine.
God used Mrs. Wyman to spark an interest in my heart when I was 4 years old, and now I am a missionary teacher in Central America (which even I didn’t see coming).
I have been thinking about Mrs. Wyman a lot throughout this entire process. Because the fact of the matter is, her missionary experience wasn’t the focus of her being. She talked about it, and we knew about it, but she didn’t let that become her identity. She lived a normal life. She was an aerobics teacher. She cooked her kids Orange Chicken and mashed potatoes and peas with the little pearl onions, and she always invited her next door neighbor over because that was her favorite meal. But she was faithful with the story that God had given her, and she lived like he called her to live. She was never abrasive with her testimony, but she was unapologetic. She lived out the Great Commission and the Gospel in the way she ran her household, interacted with friends and neighbors, and served in her church. I saw it in my own mother too, and it was reinforced every time I played next door. And little 4 year old me took notice of that. I didn’t know what I was seeing, but it left a lasting impact on my life.
3 days ago I moved to Honduras to become a missionary teacher. And the very first meal I had in my new country was stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut. It wasn’t my decision to order the pizza, but it was the perfect first meal. The only thing that would have made it better would have been Orange Chicken with peas and pearl onions.