15 Nov
Moved From Disappointment To Hope - Month 12

Here I am y’all. Writing for the first time in four months and delivering the last entry I’ll ever post on this site because the World Race is no longer my journey. As I’m not entirely sure how to portray where I am (all encompassed), the places I’ve been, or the things I’ve experienced, I ask for you to bear with me as I bare heart. In doing so I’ll try to take it one step at a time to be as transparent as possible and communicate efficiently. Things could get messy, they could cause heartache, they could accuse falsely, and they could leave something to be desired but praise God He loves fiercely despite all the ways I’m encompassed in the above.

I’ve lived out more of the same since the last time I wrote. I wrestled with unified hunger, purpose for this trip, let downs, and spiritual battles. I’ve grown in my dependence of God, the passion I have for Him, and the understanding that although His answer hurts sometimes, He is still unbelievably good. I took risks and watched them both crumble and flourish. I stepped out in faith gaining both questions and praises. I saw the Lord move in wonderous ways and yet still asked Him for more. Yes Father, this is still my request. Allow me more of You!

Retracing my steps, Kyrgyzstan brought so much division amongst my first team, I almost threw in the towel and went home. Hearing that people admittedly weren’t there for the group and the very scarce amount of time in word or prayer that was(n’t) done together dug deep. With little to no presence of anything I thought this journey was going to entail I shut down, I was defeated, and sank low into a sadness that even I’ll admit wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. I carried tension from the affect of others and let the absence of unity alter my joy. How disappointing. I learned a lot about myself in that time and despite the disfunction, a couple closer relationships built. Give praise! I also had the opportunity (amongst other things) to bond with a 14-year-old girl at an orphanage and watch God transform the heart of a man on the side of the road. I got to speak life over that girl, encourage her, and relate with her over a broken heart. This girl reminded me so much of myself and I pray that God will spare her any further apathy, replacing her tears with a zest for life. Lord restore her family and let her hold fast to the hope you’ve placed within her. Thank you Jesus!

With the man I met on the side of the road, I encountered him three separate times. At first I felt Holy Spirit draw me to him but passed by because I was with a group. I’m grateful God didn’t take that opportunity from me and instead allowed for a second chance where I was alone and got to sit down with that man. During the hour plus conversation in broken dialogue with no translator, we “talked” of Jesus and His word. I offered him a Russian bible that he refused but I told him I would be praying and would save it for him just in case he changed his mind. Wouldn’t you know it about a week later I ran into that man again, this time with his boss. I sat down and continued our previous conversation using the new mans translator. Not only did my friend from before take the Russian bible this time but his boss allowed me to pray over their business, their family, and their hearts. How lovely! Thank you Father for transformative movement, for continuous opportunities, and for the watering Your going to do on those seeds you allowed me to plant. For these things and more do I shout hallelujah!

Our next country was Ethiopia. It gave way to a new continent, a new team, and new challenges. We started the month by joining a Gap Year squad ages 18-20 for a week in the middle of nowhere for an awakening. Already I had back and forth struggles of being the eldest in the group but now I was going to add 30+ more people to that feeling. I heard members of my squad (median age 24) grumble with the idea that they were so much older than the Gap collective and chuckled to myself over the repetitive assurance of age is just a number that I received so often on this trip. At this awakening I was asked to partner with one of the Gap members and give a talk on missions. Though I accepted, I was a wreck. One of my least favorite things to do is talk in front of people and I was coming off very hard emotions from the previous months. However, Holy Spirit faithfully filled me that day and while I might have worried about what to say, forgot some of the things I had prepared for, and even kept my eyes closed for a portion of the deliverance, my soul rejoiced gladly at the end of it. I got so high on His presence and was allowed to witness the fruit of His words by strangers coming up to me hours after the message to tell me what encouragement and stirring that bought them. More praise!

Leaving the awakening and the Gap Year behind, my squad and I settled into the capital of Ethiopia for an all squad “ask the Lord” month. This meant no host, no organized form of ministry, and no break from the crowd to really get to know these new ladies I had been placed on a team with. Regardless of that fact, we jumped in. We went to the streets nearly everyday, prayed for locals, and made quick friends with a restaurant owner named Messy. Messy and I formed a special relationship that I will always cherish. She told me about her kids and her youngest son who had cerebral palsy. Later in the month she invited me to her house so I could meet the family. I took a couple other girls with me and just as promised the whole family was there inclusive of mom, dad, and nieces. I got to meet her youngest son who was so full of joy, laughed endlessly, and stated “okay” (like Little Wayne) more times than I can count. Messy told us that all her son really wanted was to go to school but he couldn’t because his legs didn’t work, his body was weak, and the schools couldn’t accommodate him. It broke my heart to hear this kids desire was something most other people have the desire to get out of.

Before we left, after they served us a great Ethiopian meal complete with fantastic coffee, I asked if we could all pray together. Thankfully they said yes, but I didn’t expect to gather in a circle and hold hands like we did. A couple of us prayed and after completing the circle prayer we broke hands and I laid mine on her sons leg. I prayed violently for this kid. I prayed so hard and my heart was so swollen that I began to weep over him as I prayed. Asking Jesus to heal, asking for a miracle, commanding bones to strengthen, believing that Messy’s son would leap up and walk. I prayed until I couldn’t speak anymore and though I wish I could tell you that kid got up and danced, he laid there seemingly untouched. Saying our goodbyes I went home and wept some more. I asked God some very serious questions. I asked him if that kid was unworthy, I asked him why He tells us to heal the sick, perform miracles and healings, but not move through our willingness. I asked Him if I was like the wind or if my heart was divided. I asked Him what I was supposed to do with what just happened, shook my head at His plan, then asked our Potter for forgiveness and requested that my angered heartbreak would not stifle my willingness for more opportunity. Woah what a time that was!

As I settled into not understanding how great our Lord is, He brought to mind what happened as we left Messy’s. I was too upset to notice at the time but her son started kicking the same leg I prayed over. Not both legs, not slight movement of one leg, not just a little wiggle, but a full on ceaseless kicking of the one leg that I laid hands on. Oh wow! Messy’s son might not have got up and walked that day but there is no doubt that the Lords power touched him. There is no doubt that Holy Spirit was present in that moment. There’s no doubt on the hope I have for the future of that kid and there’s no doubt of the glory to God what will come from his joyous sons life. Give praise!

Ethiopia was a long month, packed with conversation and opportunity. We celebrated Christmas (my first ever away from home) and New Years there, then ended our month by doing one of my favorite things in the world. Giving away Bibles. In each country I’ve made it a point to get local language Bibles (each country except the two weeks in China [Blog Link: Delayed to Move]). Ethiopia was no different. A squadmate and I collected money, found our resource store, and raised enough cash to get 12 Bibles. Hallelujah! We had designated grateful recipients for most of the Scriptures but also a few left over to ask the Lord about. With someone in mind I went to that stand and presented the word. However, I was rejected by the woman because she’s a Muslim. Now I’ve had plenty of Muslims take the Bible from me before but honestly this woman looked terrified. There seemed to be a deeply rooted fear in her that was visible by just the mention of Christ. How sad. My prayers are still with her. None the less, as I started to walk away in heartache, a stranger to me but friend to the stand owner, requested the Bible that was previously denied. Say whaaa? Rejoice! Sometimes Holy Spirit will impress upon your heart to lead you past closed doors and onto the grander ones He’s kept open. I pray that God use His word in the friendship I left it with. That the stand clerk will be woo’d through her friend and they both will celebrate in the kingdom of heaven. Amen!

Next stop… Kenya. Kenya started all mixed up for me. Confusing statements set my month for a whirlwind of dealing with value, self-worth, and healthy relationships. Holy Spirit spoke loudly during this time about love, bringing a certain eb and flow to the blessings and trails of the month. I got in spats with my teammate, hurt people on another in light of my words, traveled around the country restlessly, and made selfish decisions that started wildfire reactions. Amidst the chaos, Christ’s presence was elegantly peaceful. I built a couple close relationships with people on the squad I hadn’t had the pleasure of engaging with before, I gave sermon in a room full of peers that God spoke to me just hours before, and had a Spirit filled conversation with a freshly born again local, who I’m thankful to be talking theologically with even now. Kenya was beautiful in so many ways but it also gave me a taste of who I used to be (perhaps beautifully as well). While I opened up about certain thoughts, I kept others to myself, putting my accountability solely in my hands. How dangerous. At the end of the month, I chose against good judgement and patience. I made it too easy to engage in the battle of immediacy and affection, making a long-termed choice of four years disappear in an instant. I heard God speak and apologized even before I acted. In knowing what I know and desiring what I desire, why on earth would I not give way to “the right decision?” Why would I say I know what’s good for me, I know what You would want, yet push my own agenda instead? These questions, along with others, still puzzle me but I have a hope that I’ll one day understand why I think I’m deserving of pain or self-gratification. Why I hold on to the lie that I’m never enough or that gratifying the Father isn’t either. The majority of my being cries out for all things Christ, so Lord help my entirety be consumed! Break down the chains of this world and let my everything be satisfied by Your glory. Thank you for putting me through the fires and walking by my side even if I do get a little singed sometimes. You goodness God, doesn’t escape me!

With Kenya wrapped up in emotional departing, my team and I began our first month alone, and my last month on race. Oh Uganda! It kicked off with a whole squad debrief where the Lord gave me a go ahead on some conversation He’d been asking me to wait on for 8 months. I nervously approached the talk, hearing distance in the other party, and received hard to hear conclusions from the obedience I walked in. How confusing. Questions of why now and why prolong the disappointment came to mind. Why would someone wait so long just to hear no and what does concealing reality for a time accomplish? Thankfully these questions don’t puzzle me as much as the previous. Holy Spirit is kind in revealing the growth that came before the uncomfortable conversation. He graciously blessed me as a witness and a tool to grow seeds He’d been watering. In the end I’m grateful to have played a part in knowing harvest is coming for the kingdom in that pruning. Such praise!

This difficult conversation of honesty, trust, and hurt, made way for month 7 themes. I brought open conversation to my team about what I was walking through, choices I’d made, and the whole of my heart. I grieved in trust to a struggle I faced and asked for their confidence to maintain the process, but this didn’t last long. I was approached not long after about wanting to take my past actions to leadership. After a few long conversations the prompting of leadership involvement stayed the same for my teammate and I decided if anyone was going to say anything it was going to be me. So I did. I began with a half-truth in a conversation that went well but I was called back with a clarifying question that led to a lie. After the lie I sobbed. I hurt. I ached everywhere in my body and my stomach was in knots. Conviction much? Holy Spirit repeated Luke 8:17 to me over and over during this time and no less than hour later I called leadership back to bring the hidden out. This conversation brought light to the gravity of my situation, sealing the end of my race. I was told prayers and conversations were had by leadership who decided the race would no longer be the best place for me in the things I was walking through. I was asked to leave and though I fully expected it, I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. One minute I’m telling people about value, self-worth, and very real hurt that surfaced in Kenya and the next I hear this isn’t the place for you. How disheartening. If the World Race isn’t a place to walk out my struggles, my failures, my truths, my feebleness, where should I do that? If the community of believers I’m surrounded by says yeah you’re salvation is assured but your stain is too dark to continue here, who do I live with? By no means am I criticizing or pushing blame but instead sharing my concerns and heartbreak. Yes our actions do have consequences and I guess not finishing the 11 months was mine, but there is no greater consequence than feeling like you let down the Lord.

While I know that Christ calls me redeemed and doesn’t see a glimpse of my stain, I still wrestled with disappointment all around. I had disappointment in myself and the hypocrite I felt like. I had disappointment in the ones I confided in and the organization I was rolling with. I had a lot of disappointed feelings to deal with and this wasn’t a new feeling either but a repetitive one. The race wasn’t what I expected. I was never shy to admit that. I thought I’d be living with zealous peers whose primary passion was sharing Christ and seeking out the lost. I thought there would be serious depth and constant proclamation. I thought that (I wanted) the World Race to change my life. As I was recently praying one day about what I was looking for and why the race hadn’t made any radical transformations in my heart, God told me I was already living a life of what I expected. My World Race friends say that life is ministry and ministry is life. They’re right. God has allowed my testimony to be just that for the past 15 years, building individual relationships and seeking the lost. Going to the nations and sharing Good News. I’m praiseful, this year is no different.

The Good News is we’re all a mess. We all make bad decisions even after we discover the purpose for life. We all have refinement we constantly need but JESUS! Jesus reconciles us into right relationship with the Beginning and the End. He makes all things work together for good. He loves us desperately and paid for all of it, ALL OF IT, so we could rejoice with Him for all eternity. Hallelujah my heart sings! The World Race was a blessing. So was the end of it. I grew and saw people grow. There were zealous times with a primary passion for sharing Christ. There was depth and periods of proclamation. I met some really cool faith filled people (new friends), who are just trying to figure it out like I am. Oh how He loves us!

Thank You Father for allowing the hard things. For bringing light to the darkness. For the promise to finish what You started and for graciously loving us into Your arms. There’s no other substitute for You Jesus. You’re the only way to everlasting joy and I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, counting my blessings along the way. Lord further this vessel in intimacy with You. Bring more desire, more passion, more understanding, and more wisdom. How great You are God. How great Thou art! May Your graces extend far beyond the current state of this world, my heart, and the lost. Let there be no other thought above You Christ my love. Take back what is Yours and allow us to be used by You in the process. Thank You for it all. In the hope of your name I pray Jesus. Hallelujah, amen!

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