Just over a year ago I was traveling the country saying my good-byes to family, friends and new acquaintances as I made my way to the US' furthest state, Hawaii. Witnessing God's provision and pleasure as I crossed the miles, I was headed into a life that, come to find out, wasn't really my own. My Discipleship Training School in Kona, Hawaii was a turning point in my life as I unknowingly entered the largest missions training and sending organization in the world! It sounds so funny, but really I had no concept that Youth With A Mission and the term "missionary" were such friends, and I think that had I known that I wouldn't have gone. That aside, I am still learning and growing into what being a missionary is having spent time working in Thailand, Haiti, and now currently in Jamaica. (Photo: Releasing 122 baby Horn billed sea turtles, a severely endangered species, into the Caribbean! Yes, I did get to hold them prior to release!)
It has been a whirlwind of a year with so much to process still. I have spent the last year learning more about God's love for me, His abounding grace, and also that my identity truly does lie with Him. Working with all different peoples, cultures, languages and backgrounds has been a lifetime of experience right there. I never expected to face some of the challenges that I did, nor did I ever think I would be in some of the places and situations that I have found myself. But God is faithful and He has been preparing me from a young age exactly for such kingdom work. There are moments that I look back on the last year and still it hurts what I've seen and experienced, and then moments that I can still hardly comprehend the glory and awe of what they were.
In the last year I had Thanksgiving in Hawaii with over 150 Christians from over 50 nationalities, all ages, and all walks of life. Spent Christmas Eve worshiping and encouraging believers in a Thai mens prison with 8 sisters in Christ. I spent my birthday in a red-light district, becoming friends with prostitutes. Have had my heart ripped out seeing trafficked children, and walked as a lantern of hope through streets of complete darkness. I have had the joy of seeing the affect that months of ministry as well as what a single hour of ministry can do in working with my God. He has led to spend the summer in a place still living in destruction as I went to staff the school in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Seeing slabs of concrete hanging from a single rebar strand as people walk under it over a year after the earthquake hit. Have been in the center of mobs trying to gain entrance into a national football (soccer) game that sold over 2,000 tickets more than could fit into the stadium. God has shown me true poverty, learning that all the aid in the world cannot save them, nor give them what they really need. And now seeing a nation that has receives it's recognition because of it's culture of music, partying, and drugs. All the while facing strongholds of fear, lust, pride, addiction, unforgiveness, false doctrine, poverty, religiousness, anger, judgement, bitterness, mockery, death, and confusion and learning how God smites them. Also practically learning how I can use my spiritual and physical gift set to further His kingdom wherever I am; being the ambassador/tool of hope, love and freedom in Christ to multitudes! (Photo: My sweet 15 yr old friend from Myanmar/Burma who works as a vendor in Thailand)
... I have to pause, thinking about all the places I have been; wondering where He is going to lead me this coming year; and just Praising Him for all of it...
In just a year I have come to realize how much I don't want to control my life, rather desiring God to take all of it and run with Him for the rest of my days here. Some would say I've lost it, and they're right. I have lost my life to my beloved, and I have never been happier! I am so not worthy to be used, to be taken to all these places. Not worthy to be here now, leading a team of 9 amazing young people in their first international/missionary experiences. Just a year ago I freaked out at the term "missionary" and would have told you it was not something I was interested in ever doing. And He has so gently opened my eyes to the calling I have to be an ambassador of His kingdom in the world - wow... I am humbled. Tears fill my eyes in joy and honor of my God, for He is So Worthy of all of me, all of us.
|Speaking at a missions conference in Mandeville, Jamaica|
If you read this and He is speaking encouragement, confirmation, or challenging you; or if He shares a word for me I would LOVE to hear it! In Revelation 12:11 it says that we "have conquered [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of [our] testimony, for [we] loved not [our] lives even unto death." May it be so in my life!