Peter Stone : July 2004 Prayer Letter (Where is home?)

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The strangest things come to mind these days—picking Japanese Beetles off the beanstalks in the garden behind Grandmother’s house in the summertime…shooting the Red Rider bb gun with my friend John…eating fried chicken and corn bread…shooting hoops in the backyard until the moon comes out and I can see my breath in its light… the burnt smell that my father’s saw makes when cutting pine boards for a new project—things that I grew up experiencing, and that were part of my roots and the fabric of my home. As my world spins in different directions and turns upside down in this new culture, it seems that my subconscious is grasping for some semblance of stability and familiarity.

On the phone the other day I tried to ask a girl from a store if she could help me with something. What I essentially—and most accidentally—asked her was if she was available for sex. Thank goodness she was gracious enough to realize my mistake and to laugh about it and to kindly correct me.

I decided it was time to toughen up and start using the bus, rather than using a taxi all the time. I’ve learned that you get on in the front, and exit in the back, and that you pay first! Oftentimes it takes me three buses to go only several kilometers, because I don’t know which bus is going where. I just take a stab at it. And when the bus turns in the direction opposite of where I want to go, I just get off and try to catch one that is going in my direction.

The university where I study said they would be happy to take care of acquiring my student visa. “Now what you’re telling me is that I don’t need to do anything, right?” I asked. “Fast Spanish, Fast Spanish, Fast Spanish, Fast Spanish” was the reply. “Okay, so you’ll take care of it then?” “Correcto.”

Well, I learned that what I thought I understood the school to say isn’t exactly what they said at all. I did in fact need to present my passport to the Administrative Dept. of Security of Colombia. So, after discovering this tidbit of information, I learned that my status in the country had been illegal—for two weeks! I’ve never seen so many sub machine guns in one place as I did in the Dept. of Security where I finally got my Visa (seven different trips, numerous photocopies, various documents, and one week later).

As I stumble around, making awkward comments, forming clunky sentences, often making no sense, grasping for words, taking wrong buses, making mistakes all over the place, I guess it’s no wonder why I long for the simplicity of another time and another place. I find my mind and my heart reaching for something else—anything else…any place else, any moment other than this one. I just don’t want to be in this moment—I don’t want responsibility to face up to reality in this moment. In this place, it’s so easy to run. I have found myself thinking, “when I get settled in, and start living a more normal routine, then I will regain my footing and start reestablishing my devotional disciplines (the ones that so gradually began to slip away into some “nether land” moment by moment, week by week, and month by month, until finally I have come to a realization that I am unnervingly estranged from the only One who could ever completely understand me and give me peace amidst my changing environment).

In sharing this with my friend, he wrote back and said, “Pete, the Lord wants to see where He actually fits into your passion quota. When we are in need of routine the strongest passion gets the attention!” I know this is true, and have recognized that my passion for Jesus is often determined by the extent of control I am able to have over my life and my day-by-day experiences.

I also am recognizing that little of what I am experiencing is necessarily “missionary experience” as much as it is just plain “life experience.” Everyone experiences changes that rupture our ability to control, contain, and maintain our own little worlds. When life spins out of our hands and circumstances exceed our capacity to maintain control, where do we run? What do we turn to? What gets the attention? As I experience some of the most drastic changes, and most difficult transitions of my life, I am convinced that very little of this has to do with ministry, so to speak. I believe the Father wants to reach deeper into my heart and lay claim to more of the regions of my soul. I believe every moment of frustration in my changing environment—if I see with spiritual vision—is a whispered petition from the Father to descend a little deeper into my soul and more fully reveal His glory to me—that I might fall more deeply in love with him.

Praise God for stable circumstances and a constant environment—when we are fortunate enough to have such a life. But they are never what determine true stability and peace. I could eat all of my Grandmother’s soul food I could want, go trout fishing in my beloved home of East Tennessee every day, escape to another more simple time in my life, or anything…but I could never truly arrive home by achieving some “better” circumstance, or arriving in a better moment. My true home is in Jesus. Only there can I enter into the rest and peace my soul longs for. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. –Jesus (Jn. 15:9)

Praise the Lord… I have been asking prayer for an apartment. The Lord has provided a wonderful place in a very safe neighborhood. I want this to be a home where people will want to come and where they will experience the love of Christ. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to have this privilege. Everything…everything…is a result of God’s provision through your support. The keyboard I’m typing on, the socks I put on this morning, the bed I slept in, the eggs I ate for breakfast…everything is a result of God’s provision through you. I can’t express enough how grateful I am. Thank you for helping to make it possible for me to be here.

Here we go…

  • August 1st marks the beginning of our church plant in Bogotá. I will be one of the pastors, although I will not begin a teaching ministry on Sunday mornings until my Spanish is more sufficient.
  • Opportunities abound with friends and acquaintances I have made over the past 15 weeks, and there seems to be great interest in studying theology in my home. I am praying that the Lord will use these relationships as an initial movement into the church we are planting.
  • I am enrolled in the university until February, and continue to see Mary every day. I am dreaming that one day she will write all of you a letter sharing her testimony of how she came to know Jesus…keep praying!
  • I will be home from Sept. 19-Oct. 18 traveling in Atl., Boston, and Knoxville trying to develop partnerships on behalf of Colombian missionaries. Let me know if you have contacts that might be interested!!!

Prayer…

  • Please continue to pray that I would hide in Jesus and live close to Him
  • Please pray for wisdom as I help lead this church plant
  • Please pray for God’s leading as I begin to open up my home to many different people

Please make support checks payable to NEM, write Peter Stone on the memo line, and send them to:

NEM
10600 SW 40th St
Miami, FL 33165

Peter Stone
1803 North Hills Blvd.
Knoxville, Tn 37917
peterpaulstone@hotmail.com
(865) 522-2585

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