Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BORED - Begins 1-11-18 / Ends 1-18-18 (01/11/18)
- TITLE: Ordinary or Extraordinary?
By Trudy Newell
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The mail-order company I worked for was a dump. I watched the seminary fellows load the trays of address stencils into the old machine to send catalogs across the country. I envied them. Their job was as routine as mine, but at least they could memorize their Greek and Hebrew vocabulary while running the ancient address machines.
It was my responsibility to type those addresses on the old Royal typewriter. Some people thrive on routine, not I. The constant repetition combined with the necessary concentration and accuracy to do the job right made for a very long day. If I didn’t focus, I could easily type Dallas, TX where I lived, instead of Dallas, NC. I also had to be careful as I typed the stencils that I didn’t hit the keys too hard and punch holes. I sighed. In my first year of Greek at Bible College I could use some extra time to build my Greek vocabulary. I shrugged my shoulders. This was not an option except during breaks.
I got so frustrated at having to beg Mr. Tiereny for a new typewriter ribbon. While I waited, I put a dab of oil on the ribbon and rewound it, keeping it alive a bit longer. I would dig the junk out of the ‘e’ and ‘o’ and ‘p’ keys along any others that needed attention. I cleaned the keys once a week with alcohol and a brush. I gave up on the ‘e’ key which tended to stick every time I used it. The antiquated equipment we used was ridiculous.
God had a lot of work to do in me before I was ready to minister. My problem was not the dull, ordinary routine; but my bad attitude.
When I reached Iran several years later, I almost laughed out loud when I saw the equipment at our Bible Correspondence office. My typewriter turned out to be a duplicate of the one I used that first year of Bible college. The ‘e’ key stuck just like the one I used long ago. Typewriter ribbons were at a premium, so I used a dab of oil on the ribbon to keep it alive, just like old times!
This certainly bore no resemblance to the exciting missionary adventures I had heard.
I had no idea God was using that job in Bible College to prepare me for the extraordinary adventure of living overseas. When I felt God’s call to the mission field, I didn’t know just living overseas was so time-consuming. Everything took longer. There was a huge contrast in how things operated. Many repetitive tasks had to be done the long, hard way.
Sure, there was the excitement of sharing God’s Word with people. No day was the same. I could basically plan my own schedule. BUT when my plan didn’t work, I was not a happy camper. First in Iran, then in Kenya and each place God called me to serve, he had to teach me to transform the dull and ordinary into something special because he was in it.
How did I handle things God’s way?
* Assume a trip to the Post Office or grocery shopping would take twice as long as expected.
* Learn to be a people watcher. Waiting in line didn’t have to be a bad thing. I listened and watched what was going on. I might as well, the ‘cobra’ in front of me wouldn’t move any faster if I muttered under my breathe every time someone squeezed in line ahead of me.
* I realized that I might have to wash clothes by hand the second time because the birds flew by. It would probably be my only white blouse they are attracted to.
* I learned to be content and more flexible than before. If the water is not there, wash your hair later. Forget lost internet connection, it did not exist. I learned to live with intermittent electricity and survived
* I cooked from scratch. This meant I had to better plan way ahead if I was to be a gracious hostess.
You’d think I’d learn. Yet even today, when I enter data into the computer three times and still can’t find it, this does not help my creativity. I tend to grumble and frown.
In the middle of routine, repetitive tasks that come my way, I am still learning to be content. I need to focus on the goal, not the task itself.
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