i am a barterist: adventures in controversial conversations

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

I’m a super big fan of the barter system. I think it’s a much better system than trading in paper and coins. Don’t get me wrong- money comes in handy. Money is important. But I think we have a calling to a higher way of living. If I have access to information, experience, knowledge, or a skill set that you do not, could not, or never will have access to, I then have the ability and the privilege to use that access to better or benefit the people around me. Let me give you a few example.

I took 500-700 level English classes in college, many of them revolving around grammar, grammar theory, rhetoric, explication, and writing. I had a dear friend enroll in grad school soon after I finished school, and he asked me to help edit his final papers. I had access to information and knowledge that he did not. So… of course I helped.

There is a woman on my squad who is a nurse. Two women, in fact. When there is a call for medical help of any kind, they willingly and gladly get involved. They have access to knowledge about illnesses and injuries that few others have, and they use their schooling and their skills to aid squadmates in their hour of need.

There are tons of examples out there of people helping other people out, without the need or desire for a payback. There are tons of examples out there of people trading knowledges and skill sets for the betterment of each other. My grad school friend, in response to my helping edit his grammar and punctuation, then taught me information from his classes on subjects I was interested in. He received a proof-reader, I got to learn new information about important topics. All for the price of what I already paid to receive my own knowledge.

A big argument against the idea of society-wide bartering is that if the government is in charge of said activity, they’ll run the peoples into the ground. And I agree. I am not all for government control of this topic- I feel like people should not be forced to share, give, or trade what they possess, whether materialistically or mentally. However, I think the church’s purpose is to provide an opportunity or an avenue for people to offer. One body, many parts… this is serious. We are meant to build each other, to help each other. Further, in Philippians, it says do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Even further, in Hebrews, And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. In fact, there are tons of scripture that reference the importance of sharing! Why? Because God clearly thinks it’s important.  My Pastor once said (and by once I mean all the time) that if God says something once, it’s important. If He says something twice, it’s really important. If He says something more than once, you’d better pay close attention, because it’s really, super-duper, life-and-death kind of important. Here are some verses about sharing:

Deuteronomy 15:10
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

1 John 3:17
But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Romans 12:13
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Matthew 25:35-40
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.

Clearly, this is a topic close to the heart of the Father.  I really believe it is the church’s responsibility to take care of those in need. Maybe that’s not exactly the barter system, but I think it could work both ways. I have something you need? I have a moral obligation to help. You have something I need? You now have a moral obligation to help out. Can you choose not to assist? Certainly. Can you choose to charge me for your help? Absolutely. Is this against the law? Definitely not. Is it against the New Covenant between people and our God? I’m not so sure it isn’t. I’m not convinced that having access to aid and keeping it out of reasonable reach of those in need isn’t a sin.

Perhaps I am droning on. Perhaps I’ve gotten a little far from my original topic. Still, I think it’s an issue worthy of attention, worthy of thought, and worthy of deep and meaning conversation. What do you think? How do you feel about trading your skills to receive from someone else? How do you feel about simply giving of your excess? In a huge, society-wide way? In a small, communal, just-the-people-around-you-way?

We’re currently living in a rural town in Albania, living and working on a property with a farm, surrounded by farm after farm after farm. The girl down the street, Matilda, provides us with milk, cheese, and butter from her cow. Neighbors trade in chickens and eggs and milk and cheese. Sometimes for money, sometimes for food, sometimes for help. I once read a book about a group of people living in an earlier time, and one of their barns caught fire and burned down. All the neighbors in a several-mile radius came to help re-build the barn. When asked how he would pay them all, he responded with, “When it comes time to help them build a barn, or a house, or to harvest, I’ll go help them.” He had no stress when it came to getting the work finished, or how he would take care of the bill. The only debt he accrued was to go and help out in return. His neighbors didn’t complain or withhold their help, and they didn’t withhold their own help because he didn’t have money to pay them with. It was this wonderful, everyone-helping-everyone-out-in-due-time circle of life and love. Maybe it’s a bit utopic, but I think there’s something special there that we as a society, in general, are missing out on nowadays.

What are your thoughts?

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world race reveals… episode 6

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

Expectations.

I was going to entitle this much more cleverly, but really that one word encompasses everything I could and probably do have to say today.

I am an introvert. It really drains me to be around people all the time. I crave, long for, and genuinely need alone time to recharge. One of the signature characteristics of introverts is a need for a head’s up before major information is given, or before a major change in plans happens. If it happens, we can definitely deal with it well, and in grace… but just give us a head’s up before announcing to a huge group so that we can prepare our energy levels.

This is the World Race. (In case you weren’t aware). The very first thing staff informs you of, after you’ve signed on but before you’ve left, is that you have just given up your right to have information consistently at your fingertips. You’ve also given up the right to expectations.

I have to be honest. I have really begun to struggle with this. I didn’t at first because- hey!- this is what I “signed up for,” and it’s all new and shiny. Everything is easy in the beginning, because beginner’s enthusiasm clouds genuine emotion.

But lately I’ve been struggling with this a lot. AIM really promotes living in high honor and preference, creating an atmosphere of love and growth for everyone, and walking in freedom…as adults. There aren’t a whole lot of rules for you to follow, because this is not a youth group retreat. This is not a summer camp. We are all adults who have consciously and willingly answered a call to follow the Lord wherever He asks or commands. As an adult you are simply asked to walk in responsibility and integrity. Which I think says a lot of the character of the organization and the people that help run it.

But I’ve begun to think that consciously withholding information about the next month/location/ministry/plans/etc… is kind of like treating Racers like children. I realize that part of it is to help us stay present in the ministry we are currently in. I realize that part of it is because plans change so often and so easily, if someone fosters an expectation or excitement about something and it changes, this can lead to negative attitudes, frustration, or bitterness.

But I also feel that, as adults, we should be given the opportunity to grow from broken expectations. If information is always withheld, no expectations are ever created, how do we ever grow in that area? How do we ever learn to cope with broken expectations, or frustrations about changed plans? We can’t! Hence- being treated like children.

Well… I’ve really been struggling.

I know. I’ve said it 19 times in the last 7 paragraphs. But it’s really begun to affect me.

So I brought it to my squad leader. When in doubt, when in struggle, when the Spirit prompts a need for outside wisdom, perspective, or discernment, go to someone who is walking a path full of wisdom, perspective, and discernment clearly evidenced by the fruit in his/her life. Don’t just lean on your own judgment. Or understanding.

Enter Kat. My Godly, truth-seeking, life-speaking, grace-giving Squad Leader.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(She’s also super pretty)

And this was her timely, truthful, completely-Spirit-breathed encouragement to me (and to you, too):

When Jesus sent His disciples out, He didn’t tell them exactly where they were going, what they were doing, or what they were going to experience when they got there. He just said (basically) (paraphrasing), “Receive well what is given to you. Honor the people that you meet along the way. Honor their culture. If they don’t eat a certain kind of meat… don’t eat that meat with them. Honor them. And I’ll let you know what to do when you arrive, but trust Me now, and go in faith.”

I have to say… this hit me really, really hard. I’d never thought about it from this perspective. Obviously.

But it makes so much sense to me now! Jesus is not asking me to take this leap of faith, to become this missionary, to bring His Name to the nations…and have all the information in the world. That’s not faith! It’s not faith when I don’t have to wait for Him, when I don’t have to ask Him. If I had access to all the information, if I could make all the plans in my own power, why would I need Him? No, no. He is asking me to simply Go and allow Him to prepare the way. He is releasing me of my need to plan things, He is releasing me of the need for information beforehand…. He is releasing me of the chain of only going when I know what’s ahead of me.

That issue introverts have of needing to reserve energy for whatever may lay ahead? He’s releasing me of that. If I am reserving my own energy and strength, I don’t need to depend on Him for whatever is ahead. And that is so freeing since my own strength fails me so often anyway.

This Race…these things we’ve given up rights to- information, expectations… it’s not because we’re being treated like children. It’s because we’re being called up into mature living. Being willing and courageous to Go when you don’t know what’s coming, or what is needed of you when you arrive. Being willing and courageous enough to wait and rely upon the Lord’s strength/energy/patience/provision, and not your own. Being willing and courageous to accept whatever challenge or change of plans lies in front of you, and to do it with grace and love, knowing that your team/squad leaders- the authority that has been placed over you for this season- will let you know what you need to know, when you need to know it. And it’s all Spirit-led….led by the Spirit and led toward the Spirit. It’s all to refine us a little more, to call us up a little more, to give us a chance to look more like Jesus.

And…again… that’s really what it’s all about.

the call

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

Here’s something I’ve been processing through lately:

A lot of Racers have started talking about what ministry we think we are feeling a call to, after the race is over. And I believe that. I believe God gives us specific callings. But that’s not the whole story.

My team has been doing really hard ministry this month. We’ve been loving on and building relationships with homeless people, drug/alcohol addicts, and prostitutes. And while I may not feel a specific calling to homeless ministry, while I may not enjoy it as much as something else, God is still calling me to perform to the best of my ability in what is placed in front of me.

God may give us specific callings, but that’s not the whole command. He says in Matthew 28, “Go…and as you are going…make disciples.” Minister to people. To whatever or whomever is in front of us.

I truly believe that God gives us very specific callings on our lives. He gifts people for different things. But He also requires us to be present in the ministry that is in front of us right now. And I think if we’re faithful to that, we’ll find that He uses the ministry before us today to prepare and equip us for the ministry He’s calling us to tomorrow.

why the world race is worth it

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org
 As we are wrapping up Month 3, I’m looking back on my time in Central America. Tons of things stand out to me, but one of the most beneficial has been coming face to face with past experience. My team in particular has been able to meet up, hang out, learn from, and otherwise spend time with former World Racers and Adventures in Missions alumni every month so far.

These seasoned missionaries just seem to walk a different life. There’s a quality about them that is so very, very different than anyone I have ever known. There’s a wisdom, a calmness, a patience that- even in the heat of a moment- makes them wait for you, a toddler Racer, to make your own decision.

Something that has really stood out to me about all these vets of the field is that they really, truly believe that this Race is YOURS. They are not here to give you answers, to show you shortcuts- they really value the process you’re going through, so much so that they willingly withhold their own opinions or desires in order for you to continue your journey unmolested in order that you may figure out who you are by yourself, without outside intrusion.

I am an imitator. I always have been. It stems from being an intensely visual/kinesthetic learner.

I am really skilled at a lot of things, but never solely because of my own efforts.

I learned to write with a pencil held by my middle and ring finger, as opposed to much of the rest of the United States who hold it between middle and pointer, because when I was learning to write, I watched my teacher hold the pencil in the very same way. Not waiting to be taught as slowly as the rest of the classroom, I just picked up my pencil, imitated the way she held hers, and a writer I became.

I grew up doing martial arts. I was on the USA National Karate Team for several years, winning numerous medals, including Gold at the 2004 World Championships in Switzerland. How did I get there? Certainly not by my own merit alone. I’m not trying to harbor a false sense of humility- I did work very, very hard for a very, very long time. I put in as much as I had and then some. But the real reason I became great at martial arts is because I had coaches and trainers with their own skill and their own experience. I was able to watch excellent technique and imitate it. I was able to glean from my coaches, not just technique, but physical prosidy, moving in pauses and syncopation and smooth transitions that cannot be put into words. And with the smorgasbord of technically excellent images, I also gleaned simply from their experience in the tournament circuits. There is a lot to be said of people who have gone before you, the mistakes they’ve made, and the glory they’ve experienced. There is something to be said about not necessarily beginning the journey from scratch, but building onto what others before you have begun.

I know what you’re probably thinking- every Racer’s journey is their own.

And you’d be right.

But there is something to be said about not just being told to live in a community of high preference and high honor, but being physically exposed to that kind of living. It’s one thing for these words to be shared in a seminar that you heard somewhere at some point, and it’s something totally different to be able to see that actually lived out, in real life, with real people.

These former Racers, these seasoned AIM personnel- there is a reason they live the way they do. There is a reason that you feel a different atmosphere around them. There is a reason they seem like the only people you’ve ever met who really and truly love, honor, and selflessly prefer the people around them.

This journey that we’re on- this World Race– is not just about going and doing. It’s about learning to be. It’s about learning who you are as God’s Son or God’s Daughter. It’s about learning what it means to genuinely put yourself to the side in order to serve, prefer, or love the person next to you. And doing it all with a smile. This Race is not just about going and being a missionary to the world- it’s about letting God be a missionary to you.

Meeting these alumni, hearing a little bit of their stories, watching them relate to each other with love and honor- that’s what we’re heading for. Soon our Race will be over and we will be the people who live, love, and serve by example.

All the hard stuff, all the crappy stuff, all the emotions that overwhelm you when you realize this maybe isn’t exactly what you thought it would be- these are all stepping stones to becoming exactly who God created you to be. The endless travel days, the sicknesses, the months where you feel like maybe you’re not really doing anything for the Kingdom- all are moments used by Papa to refine us, to mold us to look a little more like Him. The Race is not a be-all, end-all, and for many of us- perhaps even all of us- it’s just the beginning of the real journey of our lives. It will continue on until “the day of completion in Christ Jesus.” But we will have experienced poverty, shame, homelessness, brokenness, dirtiness, peace, hope, and genuine joy in the face of an unspeakably bleak reality, unlike anything you could possibly imagine. And at the other end of it we will speak with a little more grace, love with a little more understanding, and we will more easily and willingly lay down our own desires in order to prefer (minister to) the person next to us. We will laugh a little easier, cry a little harder, and be much, much more intentional with our time, actions, and words. We will more closely resemble those former Racers- our brothers and sisters- who have gone before us. We will look a little more like Jesus.

And that makes it all worth it.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

how to make friends on a bus/train/plane/boat/donkey

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

All these suggestions have been tested by personal experience (either mine or my teammates), so if you’re looking for a way to add to your community, try some out:

Introduce yourself
Say “hi” in their language
Ask their name
Give your name
Coo at baby
Ask to hold baby

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

Offer chips from your newly opened bag
Or cookies. Cookies work just as great (and sometimes better)
Ask to take photo of them with whatever cool thing they are carrying/traveling with

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(my new friend Juan, a music teacher-turned-entrepreneur preparing to open
his own cafe next week)

Share your music via one headphone (you have the other headphone) (so it’s kinda romantic)
Offer your travel pillow to a weary traveler
Try to get a really sweet photobomb and then share

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(okay, so I didn’t share this one…but it’s still really sweet)

Comment on their shirt/bracelet/hat that you like
Snuggle with them while sleeping (this can get iffy, so be careful)
Ask to hold their pet chicken

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(my new friend Faith, a hippie Quaker from Pennsylvania, and her green chicken Picante)

Ask where they are from
Sing them a song
Stand up so they can have a seat (and then smile) (but don’t fall)
From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(this was, in fact, in the middle of falling)

Wink at young child
Buy food/drink from traveling vendor and hand to random person
Help them put their belongings on the overhead rack

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
(ok, so maybe this isn’t the best technique, but hey- it worked)

Help them get their belongings down from overhead rack
Share photos of your family.
Ask to see theirs.
Be okay with overcrowding. Smile. Laugh. A lot.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

The whole idea is to use your travel day to your advantage. Try not to sleep the whole time- there are more people to meet, places to see, and experiences to be had. Live life abundantly!

oh, COME ON, jesus!

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

Let me tell you a little story about my life.

Route Change. Two words I’m not excited about.  But they’re here, and they’re happening.  This is actually Route Change #2 for our squad.

I chose this route originally because of the four January routes to choose from, there were two that were going to India. This route (#3) and route #1 (M Squad). I thought a lot about the differences between the routes, and I prayed about it. I also looked at the other countries listed. Of these two routes, M Squad was going to Rwanda and we were not. Having watched the movie Hotel Rwanda a time or two, I have been sufficiently terrified out of ever having a desire to go there.

So I sign up for Route #3, O Squad. To India I go, and not to Rwanda!

Well the first thing God does, almost immediately, is take India off of our route.

I really went through a grieving process. I really, really wanted to go there.

But I got over it.

Now… as of today specifically, our route has been changed once more.  Instead of heading to Tanzania (whaddup Kilimanjaro?!), we are going to- you guessed it:

RWANDA.

Are you kidding, God?! The one place on my route I really wanted to go (and I forfeited other places I wanted to go on the other route so I wouldn’t have to go here), you took away.

AND THEN YOU GAVE ME THE ONE PLACE IN THE WORLD I DID NOT WANT TO GO.

You are hilarious, Jesus.

I know You have a plan. And I know it’s an awesome one. But, COME ON.

I like Your sense of humor.

Bring it on, Jesus. Where You go, I go!

best birthday ever [photo recap]

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Hung out with some Mayan teenagers

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Played Uno with people who live on the street in a bus terminal

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Painted the nails of pregnant women who live in the bus terminal

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Uncovered princesses

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
My whole team being awesome

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Played soccer with guys recovering from alcohol/drug addiction

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
My surprise party! haha, just kidding

From andimoore.theworldrace.org
Instagram of the incredible cookie cake my team leader made for me

It was a really, really great birthday. #blessedbeyondunderstanding

the one where we did a bunch of stuff

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

A Day In The Life Of What We Do In Guatemala City:

*made breakfast
*Couch to 5K run
*pushups and ab exercises
*(today we had the morning off of ministry, so half the team went sightseeing and I stayed home for rest and Jesus)
*make lunch (and dinner to go)
*worship
*head to ministry site #1
*hang out with homeless men, prostitutes, and drug addicts
*love on their kids
*braid their hair
*wash their feet
*make bracelets with/for them
*watch Ben’s beard get pulled by small child
*head to ministry site #2
*meet street kids and babies
*be tackled by them
*run around with them on our shoulders
*watch Seth put child with dirty diaper on his shoulders
*meet women who live in a one-room shanty with their entire extended family, 2 cats, and 1 chicken
*play soccer in the street with other street kids
*totally win
*even though they cheated
*head to ministry site #3
*hang out on the street in the slums with homeless men and a group from YWAM
*play soccer with them in the street
*dodge taxis, motorcycles, and vans
*totally win
*again
*listen to a short word (in Spanish) by one of the guys from YWAM
*pray
*head home for rest and recuperation, and preparation for tomorrow’s exciting day

crumbs from the worship banquet

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

I am accepted.
I am a life seeker and a life speaker. I am made to bolster life in others.
I am peaceful.
I am free.
I am made for freedom.
I am made to connect.
I am made for delight.
I am made to handle hard situations, and handle them with grace.
I am made to handle conflict with grace and patience and love.
I am made to be a missionary.
I am made to be a wife. Marriage has been redeemed in my story.
I am made to be a mother.
I am made to leave a legacy of love.
I am a woman of prayer.
I am a singer.
I am a worshipper.
I am a clap offering-er.
I belong.
I am beloved.
I am chosen.
I am made to be satisfied in the life I’m given.
I am made to encourage- to GIVE COURAGE.
I am made for touch.
I am a healer.
I am a joy bringer.