Hello, dear ones! Welcome to Apple Blossoms.
I grew up listening to missionary stories and dreaming of joining them one day. Car trips were filled with hours of Gladys Alyward and Jim Elliot. An old church window, covered with pictures of missionary friends hung in our living room as a constant reminder to pray.
I’ll admit, I thought they had a beautiful, terrifying and unattainable calling. But the Lord has been transforming my view of fellow Christians who serve overseas. And one way He has done this is through bringing me a dear friend who serves with her family in West Africa.
Rue Arrow is a teenage girl, living as a missionary in West Africa, with a deep passion for Jesus. She loves music, laughter, sunflowers, rainy days, new experiences, and adventures. As a young writer, she desires to encourage and challenge the believers around her and point weary hearts to their loving Creator. When she’s not writing she is usually reading, playing an instrument, or goofing off with her siblings. Find out more about her and her passions at ruearrow.com
As I’ve gotten to know Rue, the Lord has only grown what He’s been showing me: whether we are missionaries overseas or Christian students in the US, if we are Christians, we belong to Christ. And as such we are called with a beautiful, hard, messy, and gracious calling. We are called by the God who is love to abide in His love and to love others. ‘Tis as simple as that.
So! I wanted to share Rue’s blog, as well as an interview with Rue, to offer a glimpse into her life as a missionary and share some of the beautiful truths she’s encouraged me with.
I pray that it would encourage you to love well, to seek Jesus and to take heart. The light shines in the darkness, and through our brokenness, like a tiny flame in a broken jar.
Here is my conversation with Rue.
So, friend, why do you love the rain?
Eyy, what a wonderful question. I love the rain because it’s so. . .breathtaking. It’s like a little miracle right from heaven. All the raindrops twirling to the ground, clouds billowing in stormy hues. It makes me think of God touching the earth and whispering, “go dance with the rain, little one.” It’s beautiful.
How long have you lived in West Africa? Have you come to see it any differently from when you first arrived?
I’ve been here for a couple of years now (I can’t share a specific amount of time for security purposes), and my perspective has definitely changed dramatically. When we first moved here I was younger, for one, both physically and spiritually. I let the little things annoy me far more than they should have. I was angry and severely depressed. But God has done a multitude of wonders in my beautifully broken life.
I remember once a teammate left for a furlough and told me, “hang in there, Rue. I know you don’t like it right now. But you’re gonna be alright. Just hang in there.” I wanted to believe that but, at that time, truly felt like I was breaking inside. Turns out she was right, though. She came back and after the first conversation with me she laughed. “Are you sure you’re the same Rue?” she said. “I remember leaving behind a completely different person.”
Because the simple truth is that my perspective on this country went from bitter hate to passionate love in just one year. And that’s not my doing. . .it’s God’s.
What is your favorite part of the week, if you have one?
Definitely Friday nights. That’s when we do our “Family Night.” It’s so lovely to spend time with my family, goof off and decompress after a long week. And, of course, anytime it rains.
Do you have any “stones of remembrance”? Promises or memories that God has given you that you can call to mind in times of struggle and doubt?
Oh yes, several! My journal, especially, holds many memories and truths to cling to when it feels like I’m walking around in a lonely room with no light. But most often when I’m in a difficult place in life I either remember and process through prayer, verse, or song. As far as verses go, Psalm 139 is a passage I go back to over and over again. It’s full of such beautiful truths.
What is one way you and your family have discovered to love/communicate with the people in your community?
Laughter. It may sound strange, but laughter is wonderful for building connections and relationships. Simply being a friend to those we are trying to reach. . .letting them know we aren’t here to “fix them” but to love them. Listening to them, praying for them, and making time for them is a wonderful way to show them that.
What’s one little thing you love about Africa?
The precious, little ones. I love them. I love waving to little Muslim girls squealing across the red-dirt roads because somebody noticed them. I love my little group of three-year-old buddies—playing soccer with the small boys and singing with the adorable girls. I love making the kids laugh, teaching them capture the flag, gently tapping their noses and saying “Jesus loves you. Don’t forget it.” I love them. And it’s beautiful to think I serve a God that loves them even more.
You talk so much about beauty in brokenness and value in tears, do you have any encouragement for someone fighting to see the beauty?
Honestly, what I’d love to do is give you a long hug.
Don’t give up, friend. Whatever you do, you’d better know I’m counting on you to not give up. Because when I look at you I see someone that matters. You matter to God and you matter to me. There’s still hope. I know it might not seem like it right now, but Yahweh isn’t done working yet. He’s still moving mountains; still calming seas. Just hang on.
Sometimes God leads us into fire. And we don’t get that. All we get is how bad it hurts. We cry out, “why God?! It burns! Get me out! You’re killing me God!” But just wait. Patience, dear one, patience. Because if you keep your eyes on Him, one day you’ll look back and hear Him whispering “do you see, my little one? Do you see that I was faithful? I know. You’re scarred. You’re hurting. You’re confused. But I got you through it. I was with you all the way. Trust me.”
Sometimes we don’t know why He takes us through fire. But He’s with us. Maybe it’s so that one day you’ll come alongside someone who’s caught in the same flames and you’ll be able to run with them. . .cheering them on from the sidelines. Maybe one day you’ll be the one saying, “it’s okay. I know it hurts, but keep going. Hang in there. You can do it. I believe in you. He’s still with you. Trust me.” Friends. . .keep trusting.
Because sometimes that fire becomes a tiny flame in a broken jar. It illuminates the cracks and makes them beautiful. That’s me. . . it’s you. A broken jar with stories of flames and tears and heartache. But God turns it into a flickering light that brings beauty to our broken.
Just because you don’t see the stars. . .doesn’t mean they aren’t there. This moment might not feel beautiful or worth it. But you, my friend. . .you are. Just take it one step at a time.
What was the last time you laughed really, really hard?
This afternoon! My little sister was chattering away and making absolutely no sense. She said something to the effect of, “I’m not sorry you don’t feel sorry for me because I’m the one that asked you to feel sorry for you, you didn’t ask you to feel sorry for me. And you need me to feel sorry for me because everyone feels sorry for feeling sorry that you’re sorry about you.” If you have any clue what that means you deserve a medal.
When was the last time you laughed hard? Do you have any stones of remembrance? Let me know in the comments. 😉
Keep seeking Jesus, He is faithful, dear ones!