Time is marching along. Literally. I will not bother to unfold all of the events I have coming in the next few weeks, but as they unravel themselves, my mind is a tangled mess in working through all the intricate details. It's exciting, but it's a little on overload.
That being said, I am less than 2 months away from yet another trip in to the beautiful Brisas del Mar, Colombia. And I need to journal out my thoughts as this trip begins to unfold itself.
When I went to Colombia in 2016, it was a trip that had many months to formulate. I began in the summer of 2015, raising my money and preparing my heart and mind for that experience. Little did I know how much God was going to do in my life through that time. It changed me- literally. I found healing and hope. I found restoration and peace. I rediscovered passions and joys that had long been buried. and the last year has been a time of figuring out in some ways how to implement those into life as it is.
Those implementations have come with challenges, but blessings as well.
As I am preparing for this trip, the journey is very different. This time, I know a little more what to expect. This time, distractions in planning can occur rather than it being a season of learning. So I want to take a few moments to reflect and share on the process of how God is at work this time around in my journey to Colombia, 2017.
Missions has always been a passion of mine. When I was growing up, we would host missionaries in our home. Mom would serve them meals and we would listen to their stories and I felt drawn to the idea of being used in a foreign country. My very good friend, just a year older than me, went with her family to the mission field in Africa when we were just in grade school. My closest confidant when I was a teenager- my youth pastor's wife - and obviously her husband and 2 kids- went on to the mission field in the Philippines. I could share story after story of close encounters I had, even if from the good ol' USA, with people who were on the mission field. It's just always been a draw in my life. I gained a passion for speaking Spanish in high school. I had the opportunity to go to El Salvador an Honduras at the age of 18 for 6 weeks with a team.
The desire and draw to missions has always lived in my heart. Sometimes we get off the path a little bit. I got married and had children. And life rolled along, and I didn't have my hands in the missions as much. While we were involved in church always, missions was not nearly a focus in them as it had been in my church growing up.
So in 2016, when I had the opportunity to go, it was clear that God was leading there. I had no idea how He was going to use that trip in my life. I am still constantly amazed about it. You can go back to my February/March 2016 blogs to read more about that time if you wish starting here. But this time around, it's a different journey, but nonetheless a beautiful one.
Sunday I had the opportunity to go meet my team for the first time. We've had meetings, but they have been all Skype for me, as it is challenging to make it down to Cincinnati for those. And my heart strings were pulled once again. The hugs from the old team members who are on this trip warmed my heart and reminded me how much God used them in my life. Being welcomed by the new team members and seeing them face to face brought on an emotion I wasn't expecting.
From afar, the planning is all good and exciting, but being in person brought a reality that encompassed my soul with a warmth that is unexplainable.
I get to go to Colombia to serve God once again.
I am humbled.
I want to share just briefly how I got to this point this year. You see, I hadn't planned on going back. As much as I loved the people and the country, I didn't feel like I was supposed to go this year. But God had other plans. And when I watch how the journey unfolds, it's amazing to me how he makes things so clear sometimes. His plans are not always mine, but He always knows the plans for me.
I had every intention of going with my new home church to Nicaragua. I was excited to be involved with a church body of my own who embraced missions. However, that time frame did not work for me with my job. So I had to decline that trip. And when I did, I began praying and asking God if I was trying too hard to go on a trip and maybe He had other plans for me. And so I relinquished my desires to go on a mission trip this summer.
Sometimes when we let go, that is all God is asking us to do.
At that point, the team leader for the 2017 trip to Colombia called me and asked me to go with them. At first I said no, but I also said I would pray about it. And God has clearly laid out this path for me. He laid it on one person's heart, who spent months praying about it, and I realized this:
Sometimes God answers our prayers through laying something on another's heart.
When he discussed some things with me, then I took it to my family. And everyone got on board. God was laying out the path and it was evident this was one He had for me to walk. And so in January, my journey to Colombia in 2017 began.
As I have met new people in the last year and they learned of my journey, they have become financial and prayer partners with me and I praise God that my trip is now provided for once again this year. And I am thankful for these new friends.
You see, when we are obedient to Him, patient, and sometimes still... He answers prayers.
Sometimes it comes in a way we totally unexpect, sometimes it comes in a way we may not always like. But He does always answer. And that is a beautiful piece of this journey into Colombia this year. God is in every detail.
There will be plenty more He is going to do in me through this trip, I know. And I don't know what to expect in regards to that. It's pretty hard to top what he did in my heart in 2016. But that's how He works. he's always molding me, shaping me, growing me, teaching me. Sometimes painfully, sometimes beautifully, but always lovingly. Because He is a God of love.
Also in this journey, I have new church who is providing a huge support system to me through love and prayer. I feel it as I share with them about my trip. I sense it in how God has so wonderfully placed us there. And I see it in all the new exciting missions interactions I get to experience with them.
God took me to Colombia a year ago and I thought it was so I could be used. And it was. But it even more so remolded me and has helped me grow. And this trip, as I enter into it very quickly, is doing the same. In a different way, but a way He has planned for me.
It's beautiful and I can't wait to see how it continues to unfold in the next months as I grow closer to my team and have an opportunity to once again step foot onto the soil of the foreign mission field in June. Our lives here are every day on a mission field. But when we get to be an extension to place that pulls on the heart strings... I know God is up to something big.
One day at a time. Including the process leading up to the trip.