Friday, August 1, 2014

I choose LIFE.

“People from my first home say I'm brave. They tell me I'm strong. They pat me on the back and say, 'Way to go. Good job.' But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for 'the least of these,' so that's what I'm doing, with the help of a lot people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living.” 

I left 3 1/2 weeks ago for my third trip to the place that has stolen my heart. This week back has been a really different transition period. Every year I have come back I have reacted the same. I am withdrawn. My heart is sad and lonely. Everything in me yearns to be back in the beautiful country that holds onto my heart. My heart longs to be surrounded by this beautiful people group and their beautiful language! I physically hurt from the pain of being away from them! But I will rejoice in my time there and meditate on the blessings the Lord has given me. 

I miss the greenness of everything. I miss the view at the top of the hill by the school overlooking the compound, gardens and lake in the background. I miss the sunrises and sunsets. I miss the beauty of our God like I have never experienced anywhere else on Earth. I miss the voices that fill the compound with praise to our good Father.

I miss the school. Those children love learning. They respect their teachers. They notice that schooling and learning is a privilege and they soak every minute of it up. Teaching and working with the teachers at this school every summer reminds me why I became a teacher. It rejuvenates me. It makes me a better teacher and excites me to get back to America and love my kiddos well.

I miss the older kids…. the "seniors". I miss having deep conversations about the Lord with them. I miss sitting and listening to all they have endured in their short lives and being humbled by their redemption that can only come from Jesus. I miss how the Lord uses them. I miss watching how they serve the other children so well. They love them. They encourage them. They discipline them… but then hug and care for them. My heart is destroyed and completely leveled after convos with them. But our sweet Savior reminds me to intercede on their behalf. To be burdened to write and encourage them. He reminds me "with much you have been given… use that to love others."

I miss the precious kids who I taught in school. The ones who are at the age that they are needing/wanting to hang out. They are fine just sitting, playing with my "goggles" (glasses) and taking 1-2 THOUSAND pictures on my phone and/or camera. They are curious. They are interested. But most of all… they are yearning for hugs, love and feelings of being cared for.

I miss my sweet babies. The under 5 crowd. The ones that like to crawl up into my lap, hold my face and intensely stare at my blue eyes and then fall asleep on my chest. They are the ones that don't fully understand why we come and have to leave. They are the ones with the wounds that are the freshest and so the fact that we leave them is just like everyone else who has left. I hold them sobbing as we walk through the line and say our goodbyes and tell them how much they are loved. I tell them I will try my hardest to return-- never wanting to promise something that may not happen, but wanting to reassure them that they are cared for and wanted and special. These are the ones that I pray for the most. These are the ones I pray will understand and come to know God's love and sacrifice for them... and the ones that I pray will be rescued and redeemed.

The thing is… my heart has been changed. My heart has been broken. My heart is very aware of the need of Jesus in this world. He has cultivated a love for the nations in me that is unexplainable. He has called me out among the waves. A place that is scary and unknown… but He has called me to go. He has told me to love. He asked, "Who will GO and feed my sheep? Who will go and love my children? Who will go, while trusting me fully, and make my name famous?" And all I can do is cry…"Here I am, Beloved. SEND ME!" I am not perfect… far, far from it actually. I am not equipped on my own. There is nothing inside of me that is Holy and Good… except Jesus. So I will be obedient. I will be humbled and broken daily for the cause of Christ. Because above my comfort, and my safety, and my "plans for my life"… I want Jesus. Fully. Completely. Uninhibited. I want to know and be known wholly by our Savior. I want life… no, I choose life. Abundant life. And the only way I will find that… is in and through Jesus. 

"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."
-Matthew 16:25

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