on life-giving letters

9 03 2013

I just found a quote from Henri Nouwen Latin American Journal that I typed up when I read it, but never actually posted here.  On January 9th, 1982 (p. 105), he wrote,

Letters are gifts, often greater than the writers realize.  Ever since I left the United States, I have experienced a deep hunger for lifegiving letters–letters from very close friends who have little to ask and little to inform me of, but who simply speak about bonds of friendship, love, care, and prayer.  I am overwhelmed by a letter that says: “We think of you, pray for you, and we want you to know that we love you.”  I have never experienced the power of such letters as strongly as during these last months.  They directly affect my spiritual, emotional, and even physical life. They influence my prayers, my inner feelings, and even my breathing and heartbeat.

“The Word was made flesh, he lived among us” (John 1:14).  These words by St. John received new life for me during my last months here.  A word of love sent to me by a friend can indeed become flesh and bridge long distances of time and space.  Such a word can heal pains, bind wounds, and often give new life.  Such a word can even restore a faltering faith and make me aware that in the community of love, the incarnation of the divine love can be realized wherever we are.

The letters I’ve received here have been a huge encouragement, perhaps even more so than the emails.  Is that because the physicality of ink on paper echos Jesus’ incarnation more directly than pixels on a screen?  When I’ve taken time to send handwritten thank you notes or letters, I come away from that hour or two deeply grateful for the people who’ve partnered with me in prayer, in giving, in friendship.  Or to use Pauline terms, writing brings people to mind, and when I remember them I give thanks for their partnership with my in the gospel of Christ.  How appropriate it is, then, to encourage one another with the incarnation of our words on paper.

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Happy Saturday evening

12 08 2012

So I’m home in Chattanooga, mailing out hard copies of the email update many of you received yesterday.  I also hope to send out a couple thank you notes, and more will follow on Monday.  Addressing and signing letters, penning thank you notes… these things may seem mundane, but they’re the stuff of relationship–expressions of the real partnership in the gospel I have with many of you.

planted one month in Astoria to prepare for two years (minimum!) in Kiev!

Thanks for your prayers and support!  I wouldn’t have been able to attend MTW’s Cross Cultural Ministry Internship in New York without your partnership, and certainly wouldn’t been able to follow God’s call to serve in Kiev without your vital role.  Because of your faithfulness, I was planted in Astoria, Queens, New York City last month, and was able to serve Astoria Community Church there while preparing to serve in Kiev soon.

Also, through your prayers and giving, you’re making more certain my September departure for the field.  I’ve received emails regarding two more pledges, one from an individual and one from a church, that move my overall support to nearly 98%!

Happy Saturday evening!  Thanks for your generosity in giving and your persistence in praying!