Mark 11:24 says "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
As I have shared, I began my journey for the Colombian trip back in April of 2015. It started with a conversation with my friend, Kristen, who had been 3 times (and wasn't going this time around). (so really this journey began 4 years ago for me, little did I know. ) And That led to praying about going. That led to talking to the team leader. That led to getting my family on board, which led to my boss saying I could have the time off. Which all goes back to prayer. I can look back now on how much prayer got answered. God had it planned for me for a very long time to attend this trip.
When we are in the midst of something, and even when we are praying for an outcome, it can be very hard to understand and see it. But, when we pray and when we have faith, God always answers. It's true that the answer may not always be exactly what we want or think we need, but He always answers best for us .
I prayed for my funding to come through. God provided in amazing ways, to the very point of getting a check in the end for the exact dollar amount I needed.
I prayed about helping find medical supplies for the clinic... and God opened up a door there that not only provided for this trip, but potentially for all of the years to come when any team goes to Brisas we can fill as many suitcases as we want.
I prayed for team unity and for closeness, and I have not felt part of a group like I did with this team since I have lived here in 2007. I left the trip with friends for life. That doesn't happen on its own accord.
I want to share more answers to prayer that I saw through this trip, but first it's important I convey to you some other team members' experience of seeing answered prayer.
One woman on this trip entered into saying yes with total faith of God providing. She isn't rich and she doesn't ask those around her to provide because it's not her first mission trip. She just knows she's supposed to go and abides in faith. She prays her way through it. Well, in effort to not make the story super long, she turned in all her funding, and was grateful about that. She never complained. She never verbally expressed worry over this matter. But, the reason I learned all of that was because she was going to have a very tight budget surrounding the months of the trip. The day before we left, I kid you not, she received a generous check in the mail. Completely unexpected. But what an answer to prayer. Evidence in being faithful to God and obeying and going on the trip. Sometimes God does that. We have to obey and walk what He's telling us, and He will show us His hand in it, but not until the last minute. Sometimes we have to wait. Her story brought tears and a smile all at the same time.
There was another team member who was all paid up to go and then her boss said she couldn't have the time off. We all prayed that the boss would change his mind, we wanted her on the team with us, and she wanted to go. I don't know all the statistics of how it got all figured out; I just know she made it with us. And we are so grateful she did. She contributed in a huge way.
Another team member's mother got very sick just before going. He happens to carry a lot of responsibility for his mother and the team both, so the timing was horrible (Not that a parent getting sick is ever good timing.) We prayed a lot that she would push through and that he could get things sorted so he could focus on the trip. And he got her all arranged for his time away, and it worked out to the best of the scenario's possibility.
One of the other cool scenarios I learned is a little bit of a longer story. But one worth hanging on to read. Because God's hand is written all over it. While he tells it better, I am going to do my best to recount it for you. I asked one team member why he chose to come on this trip. He kind of said he didn't really know. (At the onset of it anyway....I'm confident God revealed His reasons for his being there along the way). His mom was praying for him to go. In fact, she was praying a specific scripture about his going. Meanwhile, he didn't raise funds through any specific way, but people were praying for him to obtain all he needed to go. And the stories of how God provided are almost humorous, but cool to hear. At the same time his mom was praying and he began attending meetings to go, and I was assigned his name as a prayer partner. Now, I didn't know him at all. We'd not really even said 10 words to each other at that point in time. But, I prayed for him. And now that I know him, I can see how God answered specifics to those prayers (not to be skimming details here, but I'm trying to spare time) God was weaving His way through this guy's life in incredible ways. Fast forward a little bit of time. Everyone on the team received a team prayer guide. It was designed for us to hand out to family members or friends. And each day had a scripture with it and specifics to pray for about that day. Wanna hear something cool? The day that he was assigned to be prayed for specifically because he had the devotion that day, held the very same scripture that his mom had been praying for him since the beginning of this journey. Ephesians 6:10-20, the armor of God. That's how cool God is. That's how we see that His hand was always in the plan of his going on this trip. That's not a coincidence. And let me tell you that God used this story and the journey even of praying for him throughout this trip, to bring me to a new place in my faith. So, while he may not have understood at the onset of the trip why he was going.... God always knew. And his story was used to touch me. And he was used to touch those around him. I love seeing God's hand at work, interlaced through this story, and all of the other ones that can continue to be told.
One final story I want to share. And honestly, this story will lead into a blog post of its own somewhere in the journey of sharing all these God/Colombia stories. This story is one a little harder to share. Because it means getting vulnerable. But getting vulnerable is what often leads to beautiful relationships and meaningful moments. So, bear with me.
If you didn't know either from my telling you or maybe from reading some of my older blogs, I battle depression and anxiety. These two illnesses are every day fights for me. Some days it's exhausting and other days I am OK. I have battled depression for nearly 8 years now. As I prepared to go on this trip, my depression knocked me down hard in the month of January. (I am giving skimpy details here and will come back to this in a different blog). It's a frustrating, painful, and lonely road to travel most of the time. Very few understand, and those who do usually can do nothing to help. I have learned the ups and downs well enough to know certain aspects, but it is what it is and I just have to plug through it. God is my strength for sure. As January brought on dark days for me, I spent a lot of time praying. God was at work, and I knew it, I could feel it, I sensed He was up to something. But when depression is there, facts v. emotion are like Mike Tyson and Mahamad Ali in a boxing ring. One takes a hit, the other one swings. It's brutal at times. But I prayed. And I asked a few around me to pray. And through this trip, I saw God answer in amazing ways. On this trip, I felt the burden lift. I laughed more than I have laughed in years. I cried, too, but generally they were happy tears or tears of awe at how God was at work in and around me. I was able to do things my heart longs to be able to do. It's not to say my job at home or my family don't fulfill me, so please don't misread this situation.
What I'm trying to say is that I faced some dark days, and in the midst of prayer, having no idea how much my heart would light up, God used the people of Brisas del Mar, my teammates, the Colombian culture, and serving Him in a way that leaves me speechless and in awe. It's very difficult to explain, but I am trying. Most people around me on a regular basis would not know I battle depression because it's a very hidden illness. But while on this trip, I felt the weight of that come off my shoulders for those 9 days.
It doesn't mean I won't battle it any longer. I've dealt with depression and anxiety long enough to know that it will likely come back around in its ugly cycle at some point. But for now, I am basking in what God showed me and what He's continuing to show me.
I am a dreamer. Always have been. And He's giving me dreams again. And that is a beautiful, beautiful answer to prayer for me because for a little bit of time, I could only see the dark in front of me.
He is good. He answers prayer. He answers mine. He clearly answered those of others on the trip. And He will answer yours too....
By the way, there's a team going in June hopefully and if you're interested in going, let me know. I'll connect you. I can tell you, you will not be disappointed. God works in crazy ways.
*I wasn't sure what pictures really went with this, so here are a few random pictures to go along with my team and my experience in Brisas*
|the team with the Bishop, who came from Medellín|
|Last day in Colombia, in Cartegena|
|Me, Juan, Eric, Michael, Paula, James and Jon|
|Keith was always photo bombing! And that's Ricardo with him.|
|Angie, Paula,Barb, me, Keith, Paula Lou- about to head to Brisas|
Stay tuned for the next blog, where I will share about Paola, our wonderful translator.