Friday, May 31, 2013

lessons in transition

So, today I am saying a "see you later" to this little town

and these sweet people-

and I'm feeling a huge "oh snap, I'm living in the land of traffic and grocery stores and malls and toubabs (foreigners) again" because of this huge town

and these fun people.

So, basically this means I'm in the middle of another transition. However, I feel like this is a good thing. Not because I won't miss the place I've come to call home the past couple of months, but because it's given me a sense of how short my time really is here. Whenever I first came to this town in November, I knew that I would be having to leave it for a period of two and a half months come May. May seemed like forever away, though. Now it's here, and it is time to leave for a little while. Though this transition is not the easiest, there has been an abundance of lessons that I am taking away from this time.

This move is reminding me that I don't have forever living here. 
 I don't have forever to soak up the language, share life with friends, and most importantly-explain Truth in love. Two years seemed like it would never end the night I stepped off the plane, entering a culture so foreign to me. Now, I only have a little over a year left.

This move is causing me to think about expectations. 
What did I expect moving here? In what ways did I think I would be stretched and in which areas did I want to grow? In some ways life here is far exceeding my expectations. However, in other ways, I feel like I haven't been urgent enough-thinking I had all the time in the world. Speak Truth, in love, with urgency.

This move is making me trust the One who knows.
  Trusting Him in ways that are hard for me. Trusting that He loves this town more than I ever could. Trusting that He works in huge ways, though there isn't a physical presence here. Trusting that His word is going forth, and that His name is being proclaimed in the intimate moments that only He can orchestrate.

This move is allowing me a bigger sense of community. 
This may be an area of life that I have missed the most since being here. It is also something I took for granted in the States. So, my hope is to soak up every moment of living in community like this during the summer-whether it is in my language, or foreign languages. I am excited to be in the presence of the Great I Am, accompanied by the sweet spirit of a group of people who desire to be there as well.

Though this time is bittersweet, I am thankful for these lessons. My hope is that this time of transition will teach me to be completely in the "here and now." Not looking ahead, not yearning for the things that have happened, but be completely satisfied in the present moment.

...and if you need ANY packing tips, feel free to Skype me. I'm quite the pro at this point.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Just One

At the beginning of May I tried to blog every day with different prompts to answer some questions about how I feel about life here. However, I spent some time in a village without electricity. I also spent some time traveling for various reasons. 

But then, there was the fact that parts of this past month have just been hard. Not the kind of hard where I just want to curl up with a good cup of coffee and my mom to tell me that I can do this, but the kind where I am feeling the weight of this journey. I am feeling heartbreak over people I absolutely love here. I am seeing how deceived people are, and it is completely wrecking me. There have been times this month where I see a glimmer of hope that truth is given a chance to grow, then I see the Enemy choke it out in such a way that I am left sickened over the fear that I see in people. Generations of lies. Such a huge burden that they are living with on a daily basis. I have looked into faces this month who have told me they believe what we are saying, yet they just can't give their life to it. I have looked into faces who have told me they want to know more, only to have someone hit them and tell them they can't do this. I have seen booth after booth after booth selling "home remedies" and "charms" that so many are putting their hope in for protection. This has left me with such a burden, such a sense of being overwhelmed. How do I love the masses? Where do I even start?

I start with one. That's what these past couple of weeks have shown me. 
I start with one.
 I start with the person I see as soon as I walk out of my door. I start with the little boy who is so excited to shake my hand. I start with the woman with the beautiful smile who sells vegetables, or the man who works so diligently in his tailor shop. In the masses are individual faces, individual hearts, individual souls. If I can love just one, then there is rejoicing above.

I think about the heroes of faith who have gone before. The promises they had to cling to during their times of trial and heartache, and I see how they persevered-never losing hope that God was going to do something so big they couldn't even fathom. When I hear these stories it amazes me how they traveled to lands they did not know, the faith that they prayed with, the fact that they just seemed to know in their soul that God was at work. But then I look closer and see why. They simply believed in the promise that they were told. Time and time again I see the simple faith that was woven into their daily lives. 

This past week I read in Romans, "No distrust made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised."

I came here knowing what had been promised in my heart. Great things are going to be done. Yet, how easy it is to forget that when I am overwhelmed by the masses. However, this week, I am believing this promise over one. It was not told to me to go to the masses. I am told to just love who I come in contact with. However "small" I think the work is, He is doing something great. And through that one, He is reaching the masses.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

life has led me where?!

So often I want to sit down and try to convey all the emotions I feel, the "adventures" that happen on a daily  basis, and the flat out exciting things that happen. However, more times than not, it is such a struggle to adequately describe all that goes on here and in my head and heart. I experience so many things on a daily basis, and I don't even know where to start. So, when I stumbled upon this, I decided that it would be something I would try. Many of the prompts are dealing with life on a personal level, but I decided to tweak it a little bit so it will be more about life here. I'm not promising to stick to a strict schedule, because let's be honest-life happens. However, I do think these "prompts" will answer many questions people have asked..or it will answer a question you didn't even know you wanted to ask. Just trying to be one step ahead of y'all!

day 1: story of your life in one paragraph. (or, how i ended up in africa)

 I always knew I loved different cultures. I loved language, reading about customs, going and experiencing anything I could that had to do about a people group different than my own. As a child, my parents really encouraged this in me by the lives that they lead. They were always the first people I saw to really reach out to people who had nothing in common with them-all for the sake of showing them Love. As I grew older, I realized I also kind of had a knack for this thing called Spanish. As I prepared for college, I was one of the crazy people who decided I wanted to be a Spanish teacher.

 Another thing that happened in college is I crossed paths with this man.

He was a director of an organization on campus, and he ended up being such an encouragement throughout my college years. One way that he "encouraged" me was suggesting telling me that I needed to get out of my comfort zone. This included spending my summers, both in the US and abroad, sharing with people that they were created for so much more than just "existing." During these summers, and my college years, my love for other people continued to grow. So, when I graduated, I knew I had to go overseas. However, because of the whole "Hey, I'm kind of good at Spanish thing," I started to prepare myself for a couple of years in Mexico. I may also be slightly addicted to any tortilla shaped object covered in cheese with a good side of chips and salsa. Anyways, through a couple of different circumstances, I knew that no matter how much I thought Mexico made sense, my heart was being drawn to West Africa. The only thing I really knew about Africa was The Lion King, so I knew coming here was going to be completely foreign in so many ways. It's so great, though, that the Father knows our hearts better than we ever could. Since coming here, I have fallen in love with the people. I know joy, not just happiness (because I promise my happy state of mind changes often over here), but true joy because I know without a doubt that this is where I'm supposed to be. It's been an incredible journey, and I'm so thankful for the people who have encouraged me in so many ways throughout this time. This has been such a special time in my life, and I know that in the scheme of life this time is short. So, for the next year or so I plan on soaking it all in, while hoping that the Love within me will continually overflow into the friendships that are continuing to form in my life on this side of the world.