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Chapter 8 – From Pain To Joy – A Week of Revelations and Guidance

August 21st, 2017

The past week had been one of the hardest weeks for me, not the entire week, but there were a good 5 days that were filled with emotional break downs, doubts, anger, fear, tears, discomfort, and lots and lots of cookies and chocolates to temporarily sooth my uncertainties, stubbornness, and my emotionally raging heart which was hopelessly searching for an unfound peace.

In hindsight, I can see where I went wrong and how I ended up in such a distorted, messed up place. I was very focused on myself. I was could believe that I was focused on God but really I wanted God to be focused on me. I was living the “ME-ssions” life style… The kind where you can pretend like your focused on God because you talk about Him. I was telling God, “I want to walk with you but we need to go where I want to go.” I was telling him to walk with me instead of trusting Him to light my path. I was so focused on myself that I was incapable of realizing and remembering what had happened so far, everything God did to get me here, and how He was still working. I felt as though He owed me for my obedience. My “time with Jesus” was the 15 minutes that I laid in bed after my alarm cock went off and I drifted in and out of prayer and sleep. Being in the word was looking at a verse of the day… maybe. I was surviving on the bare minimum and calling it okay because I worked at a church. I thought that my plans had to be right and accomplished which meant that I needed Spanish, so I chose to use my time studying over being with Him. I thought if I studied and understood, that would be how I would see God, because that is how I expect him to work. If I was not picking Spanish up and if I was struggling, than God was just not there, so it was okay to be angry.

When I broke down with Karen, she reminded me that if I choose to study instead of be with God, it is pointless because I was saying that I could do it alone, I was putting Spanish and my ability above God. Just because I was going to give Him credit if I could have learned it, didn’t mean that I was right. He doesn’t work that way. She reminded me that if I find peace first, and I make myself available to hear God and be molded by Him, he doesn’t need my efforts, He can bless me abundantly because He is who He says He is. I got mad and told her lies about what I had been doing and how God had left me all alone. I said I do read my bible and pray and I can’t find peace. I said God hasn’t been here for me once since I arrived…. BIG FAT LIE! I was so wrapped up in playing the victim that not only was I not walking with God, I had discredited every place where he had lead me.

I really expected God to follow me and without knowing it I slipped further and further away. The morning after breaking down with Karen, I woke up pretty embarrassed with myself. There was still a part of me that was just focused on me, I realized that I looked bad and I had lied, and with that lie I had invalidated everything I had said to Karen in the past, what was I going to do… I couldn’t tell her that I lied because I was being an emotional, attention seeking, over dramatic, temper tantrum throwing little girl, but I couldn’t let her believe that everything I said was true… because I knew it wasn’t.  I realized that it was time to repeat… not to Karen because I couldn’t embarrass myself again or like that yet, but God needed to know that I was sorry. As I stopped everything I was doing and laid in bed eyes wide away, I cried and apologized. As I did that, forgiveness, love, and realization of my wrong flooded over me. Because of it, I wanted to feel even guiltier for what I had done and where I had let myself go to, but you can’t be in guilt and in God’s presence at the same time. I prayed that I would walk in His path from now on and that I would rely on Him. I prayed that this time He would fill me with revelations and blessings. God gave me those revelations.

Am I happy that I got to such a bad place, no. Am I happy that I could see God taking my ugly mess and teach me beauty through it, absolutely! Well, I finally did a real devotional, no Spanish studying for me that morning, I needed to be with my best friend and be filled up. I felt back on track and ready to go except for one thing, I had to repent and apologize to Karen. That meant I had humble myself and let go of my pride. When we got in the car, before I could even say something, she started apologizing, saying that she had been to harsh and not loving enough to listen to my problems. I laughed and told her, never change who you are because that is what I needed. I told her I realized I was entitled and I needed her push to get there. I needed conviction when I was wrong not encouragement and enablement.

So, I stopped focusing on myself, I thought, “so what if I don’t learn Spanish? What if instead, I talk to my teacher about Jesus! Would I rather speak fluent Spanish or have the blessing of God using me to change where one of His loved children spends eternity? Would I rather be fluent in Spanish and have to leave the children to take care of business when teams come OR since I can’t speak Spanish and talk to people, shop, or order food, would I rather have to rely on body language but be able to share the love that that God poured into me with children?” How dare I try to make my own plans when God has already written a beautiful masterpiece of my life that ends in happily ever after. I know better, God never lets you live in discomfort because He wants you to squirm, He knows what will happen and He puts road blocks in the way to get you to go the right way.

Seeing this realization made me think of the other day when a bird got into the house. The sliding glass door was open and the bird could have flown out of it to its freedom if it would have noticed it. But instead, it insisted on flying into a closed window, slamming its body against the window over and over as the bird hit it, fell, and than tried again. This bird would kill himself at this rate. But he didn’t know where he was, all he could see was where he wanted to be. All he could do was focus and hope that if he kept trying, the window would break or disappear so he could get to where he wanted to be. The bird was not going to stop trying. He was not going to leave the window and a search for his answers elsewhere. He had outside in his sight and if he left, he may not be able to find it again. Leaving the window would be accepting death to him. However, by trying to avoid his death, he was causing it. First I tried to talk gently to the bird and explain it to him that there was an open door I could lead him to if he would just listen to me. But that bird didn’t know my voice and that he could trust me. He was a bird who lived in Honduras so if he wasn’t studying my language, he would not recognize it. I refused to let him die so I had to take more drastic matters. If he wouldn’t hear my calming guiding voice, I would have to wait for him to become so weak that I could stop him from hitting the glass and scare him out of the house. I would have to stop him from flying the wrong way by blocking him. That poor bird was in such distress but he finally flew outside and was free.

I now realize that I was the bird. I saw what I wanted and I would kill myself to get it. If I took my eyes of the prize I was sure I would die. I wasn’t studying God’s word so I couldn’t hear his voice. I was living in the world and needed to study His language. God let me grow weak so that He could reveal to me that there was an easier way. He was smarter and He could see the entire path. He would lead me to freedom if I would surrender to the unknown and follow Him. He lead me to my freedom and although, unlike the bird, I am not where I wanted to go, I am happy and content and trusting that God will not let me fly up a stair case or into a corner, he will direct my path until I am fully outside and once I am there, he will show me where to go so I don’t end up inside another house, throwing myself against unbreakable glass. I will not try to break the glass anymore because why would I cause myself destruction when there is an open door waiting for me. (That was a good analogy right! … Thank you Jesus for taking care of your bird!)

God guided me and gave me many types of encouragements. From Pastor Daniels post on Facebook,

to a new audio book I started listening to which was filled with inspiration just for me, to going over to Karen friend Sandy’s house and hearing her testimony about being called to move from the States to Honduras and being reminded of the miracles He has done for me. The inspiration wouldn’t stop coming. I was back on track and feeling strong and I would not allow myself to fall so easily again. In my weakness, God showed me how strong He was.  I am going to tell you more about the inspiration I got from Sandy and from Kisses from Katie (my audio book) but first I want to share the revelations that God placed on my heart in hopes that the hope that was given to me can help someone else too.

1st, God does not call us to do things that we are already capable of doing. If that were the case, how would He ever receive the glory and why would we ever need to look to Him for peace, help and guidance. If we could already accomplish our calling, our success would be based on us. But when the impossible is placed before you and it is apparent that you cannot, it forces you to cry out to God and rather than be dragged down by the “cannots,” you are lifted up by the “praise-Jesus-es” and the “look-at-what-He-has-done-s.”

2nd, God explains there will be suffering and pain as we walk the Christian life. Many times we look at this concept like a mannequin. The pain is an idea and it is and easy solution so we can almost idolize pain and think that it should be easy to get over. We think a 5-minute glance at a verse of the day or a quick prayer is going to give us something to make it go away. Just because the bible does not always include the disciples and prophets wallowing in self-pity or anger at not understanding what or why, does not mean that it never happened. They were humans too with real human emotions. They felt the pain but were able to be so drenched in His love that they could over come. We cannot drench ourselves in love with a 5-minute glance. A 5-minute glance is better than nothing, but it is comparable to trying to survive by only eating a peanut every day. It is filled with protein and healthy fats but will not sustain you for long before hunger and the pains of it overcome you. You can forget about how thankful you were for the peanut or how good it tasted because you are being overcome by starvation. Being in the word is much the same way; it is something that requires time. In a world of scrolling through news feed and seeing an inspirational quote to make you smile, we forget what it means to have to search for inspiration that lasts. Taking time to be in The Word and meditate on it lasts and it changes the day. Taking time makes a difference. Returning to that meditation and prayer is what keeps you focused and gives you joy. Here lied m first problem, I was expecting a half awake, 15 minute prayer in the morning to sustain me and give me peace and energy for the rest of the day. I was expecting a verse of the day to feed and inspire me. But that is just not how it works. The same way I can’t study Spanish when I am half awake and look and one new word and suddenly understand it, I cannot except to understand God and hear His voice when I neglect studying His Word and live in a world of contradicting influences. Christianity is like all relationships; you must make time with it. If you want to hang out with a friend, you don’t have them come over while you are sleeping or getting other things done, of course once you have that closeness with them you want them to be with you no matter what because their presence is just enjoyable. But you meet up for lunch or see a movie, or get together to just hang out. Imagine only talking to a friend when you need something, they probably will not be your friend for long. So my second and third realization is that I can expect to struggle because entitlement is of the world but working hard is from heaven, enduring the pain like a good solder is what we are called to do. And when I do feel overcome by the world, I must remember to not live like the world expecting fast satisfaction but instead plan time to set aside and give my undivided attention to being completely filled.

As I made it through and overcame this hard week, I started understanding that when I decided what my calling was and what it was supposed to look like, I had set myself up for failure, faithfulness, frustrations, and boredom. When I started thinking I had it all worked out and knew what I was doing, I began expecting things to happen and to work out the way I said they should. So, I thought, “God, I came here in obedience and you will work a miracle and I will be speaking Spanish fluently in the first month because you are so good.” You see, in the past, God has always used my words as my ministry; one of my top spiritual gifts is exhortation so encouraging people is how I can see God use me. I have always said, “I am terrible with words so when God speaks through me I see Him do great things.” I was expecting Him to continue using me the way He always had… I thought He had been preparing me for what He had prepared for me. But when I planned out what God would do, how He would do it, gave Him a time line, and expected to be ministering and connecting in the way I expected to be, I felt hopeless and alone. I was so confident that I would be able to pull up this spiritual gift and use it that I wasn’t really asking God to give me words or having faith in our loving and sovereign father. I was having faith that He would follow my plan. I was relying on my ability to do what I knew how to do and my knowledge. I found myself in a hole of “but whys” and “how could yous.” The thing is, you don’t need God to do what you plan to do. You need Him to light each step and when you can’t see where your foot will go next; when you know that you need light to get by in a dark and changing world. The map is always changing and I found that my planned route was unknowingly leading me to walk off a cliff. But with the light I could see the edge, and now that I am following the light, I will not even go near the edge. I am now trying to live in faith day by day asking Him to show me what to do next and thanking him for each step. I am not worried about the future because I cannot see it, but He can and He is good.

I found 2 quotes in an old bible study and have stuck with me and came back to my memory. “You cannot have wonders without wounds,” and “God never fails to put conflict, injury, insult or opposition to use.” As I struggled in multiple ways, I ended up felling kind of silly. I was expecting to see wonders with out having to bare any hardship. But now I realize that if everything were perfect, I would not recognize the wonders as wonders because they would just blend in with my life. You are amazed by wonders because they seemed impossible before. I was reminded of how many times I had been strengthened because of a struggle, how many times I had been encouraged from having to fall on my knees in tears and cry out and surrender to God because I could not do it. I recalled how God has used my circumstances to strengthen others. If my dance studio had not caused me so much pain, my forgiveness and acceptance of Ms. GayMarie would have had no impact, God’s love would not have been shown if I had been her favorite and her words had not cut into my soul. I never would have looked for the underdog or the child who needs encouragement when teaching dance because I would not have know what it felt like to be the ignored and hated student. If I was not given so many intellectual struggles and learning disabilities, receiving good grades and graduating would have been based on my own knowledge and abilities but instead all the glory is given to God because on my own I would not have even graduated. And now, as I struggle here, feeling lonely, unable to speak the language, feeling useless and selfish, and being so consumed by fear that I cannot focus on anything else… all I can say is this, “take this Father and do with it what You will, bless the work of my hands so they may bring glory to Your Name, teach me how to walk in Your will and minister how it is needed, not how I want.” Nothing has changed in the physical sense but I feel peace and comfort and my best friend has got my back. He will give me the strength and the energy to survive and He will grow me in ways I could not have imagined. When I think I need to be able to speak the language to be helpful, useful, or happy… He reminds me that I do not… I need to be obedient and I need to endure the suffering and fight a good fight just as I was called to! Through the wounds, I will see wonders and through the pain and conflict, God’s name will be glorified because He will not let it go unused. I will experience joy and blessings, I will witness what I never thought possible and what I could not have imagine in the first place. Bringing glory to His name, isn’t that the mission? I am not here to end world poverty, I am not here to end gang violence, I am not here because I am so wise that I can teach all the people something new and important, I am not even here to love because I am human and my love is so flawed, I can not change the state that Honduras is in, but God can change things, if God gives me His love, if God gives me His words, if God gives me His plans, if God choses to use me and I am a willing servant, glory will be brought to His name!

I realized that I was trying to be strong and if my demands where met, I would be strong. But the bible tells me that in my weakness, He is strong. I would much rather have His strength than my own. I was reminded at church that when God called Moses, God did not take away his weakness. Moses pleaded with God that He would be a better speaker but God kept him weak so that He would be the one who provided the strength. God does not just fix problems because we are in obedience to His will, rather He shows us how great He is by providing us with strength that shows the world how powerful He is. He will not let harm come to me because of my weakness but He will redirect me. He gave me spiritual gifts and I believe He will give me more and strengthen them as well. When I am living in His gifting and walking in His step, He shows me that His strength is more powerful and best seen when I am weak. If I can submit to Him with my weakness, He can show the world His strength. If I am determined to be strong, I can take credit for His work and I can miss how great our God is. Once I realized this, my mind flooded with verses that I had written and hung on my mirror or put in a notebook back home. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” Isaiah 40:29 – “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak,” Psalms 119:28- “My soul is weary with sorrow, strengthen me according to your word,” Ephesians 6:10 – “be strong in the Lord and in His power,” Isaiah 40:31 – “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and will not grow weary, they will walk and will not faint,” 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness… For Christ’s sake I delight in weakness, in insult, in hardship, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong,” Psalms 28:7 – “the Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts Him and He helps me,” Psalms 118:14 – “the Lord is my strength and my defense, He has become my salvation.” I now ask that I may stay in His weakness so that I will never take credit for His strength, so I may live a life of revelation as I watch in awe how God provides for me and gives me strength. I can trust and rest in His holy goodness and promise of strength. How great is our God!

Just because I was being strengthened, didn’t mean that I could not longer feel weak, it didn’t mean that the enemy could not attack me, it just meant that I could see it and shake it much easier. Like I said earlier, I started listening to a new audio book called ‘Kisses from Katie.’ This has become one of my favorite books ever and I highly highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good read. The book was written by a girl named Katie who was a missionary in Uganda and wrote blogs. She went there at 19 thinking she would be there for 1 year and fell in love with the country. Quick summary is that she started a non-profit, lives there, and at age 23 had legally adopted 24 children. I am continually amazed and encouraged as she shares her experience and convictions. I can only hope to live my life more like her. I am not looking to live in a 3rd world country forever, and I am certainly not looking to adopt children, but hearing her experience and the way she abided in God, the way she found encouragement from Him, was so encouraging to me. Her convictions convicted me. I was so thankful for this girl and how God was using her. I was so thankful someone encouraged and helped her put her story together to share with everyone.

It was amazing to hear some of my own thoughts and feelings that I was unable to describe put into words as she experienced many of the same things that I had. She talked about the contrast of seeing the material poverty and the spiritual richness. She talked about how odd it was that the smells of dirty children had become something dear to her heart. As Katie described kissing children with diseases, I thought of the children who I couldn’t help but love that were covered in lice, or scabs, or coughed directly in my face. I too am no longer bothered by children who have fresh or dried snot running from their noses and all over the side of the face, I’ll cover them in kisses anyways. I can’t help but love the children because of the love that God put in me.

She talked about how difficult it was knowing there were people back home who would easily spend $100 for a pair of shoes but would say they were unable to sponsor or donate to a child. She talked about how it was a struggle not because she thought they were horrible people but because she had to accept that unfortunately, that is the way of life. It was not her place to hold them responsible. The amount of times I thought of people who consider themselves “poor” but pay for a Disney or universal annual pass blows my mind. Even more when I think of the people who don’t even go enough to make it worth their money. I think about how much money people spend on make-up and brushes and it makes me sick. The price of Mac foundation is the equivalent to the price of sending a child to school for a year and giving them a uniform, new shoes, and school supplies. It is the price of giving a child hope that they can have success and make a respectable living instead of having to turn to gangs or prostitution for survival. (All this is going through my head as I applying Mac foundation to my face with a nice brush by the way.) Some people will never realize that they can give up their vanity and give a child a future, some people will but will chose not to. However, I was reminded that I cannot place judgment, it is not my place. I am just as selfish and care just as much about small things, they may be different but I am the worst of these things. I must first take the log out of my own eye so that I can understand and have compassion for all people whether they are living in material or spiritual poverty.

I felt convicted as she spoke about what I was witnessing as everyday life. People who are sick and dying, people who are starving but they do not worry. They do not rely on themselves or on others to provide but fully rely on God and His ability to heal and provide. I say this as I look at my bucket of medicine that I brought so I would have medication “just incase.” Every time I encounter something that I consider “not as it should be,” my first reaction is what can I do to help, what can I give up so I can give, who can I contact so I can help. I need to remember to trust God. Before going to myself, before going to people, I need to go to God, listen to what he is telling me and act on His word, not on my thoughts. I need to remember that I cannot solve the problems of this country but God can and He will do it in His timing.

This all made me think about people in the States who are unhappy because of something materialistic. These people are friends who I love dearly. We would get together and complain about bills, being tired because we worked 3 jobs, wanting an apartment with a big kitchen or a walk in closet. We could complain about these things because regardless of what we thought or how we felt, we are so rich in material possessions. Yet I think of our conversations and realize the spiritual richness missing from them. I go to houses here and see chickens walking through their one room house made out of strips of wood and bark because they don’t have a door to keep them out.

As good as this book was for me, with every good thing, the enemy can distort it. I began comparing my life style to hers. In both good ways and bad. Yes, we both loved in supernatural ways that we ourselves were not capable of without God, yes we both dealt with living in odd parallels, sure we both missed home and had some hard days, and yes we both felt convicted by the Lord but were also in awe of how great He is. But comparing is not good. Katie talked about how she would hand write notes by candlelight at night and discussed the difficulties of dealing with no electricity. She talked about making her own meals and having to prepare them for 6 hours because they did not go to the grocery store so everything was prepared from scratch. She gave her self sponge baths because there was no running water. She did not have alone time because people were always coming to her house to ask her for things. She was with the children every single day, they called her auntie or mommy and she really poured in their lives. I listened to her talk about this as I had just turned off Netflix from my laptop charging in the electrical outlet and was preparing to take a shower with warm water but first was cooling off with my fan plugged into an electrical socket and I would soon be getting ready to go to the office to write reports on what other people were doing for the children. I started feeling like I was not good enough; I wasn’t roughing it out well like it is expected of missionaries. I was still watching movies and enjoying the luxuries of life like getting to be a picky eater, having meals prepared for me, having electricity and running water. I was still stuck on the luxuries, would I be able to get everything out of my time here like Katie got out of hers? I could not be overcome by God’s goodness because I wasn’t cutting out my materialistic things. I started feeling bad for complaining about no space to work out, no AC, having to go downstairs to get fresh water to take medicine, having a slow internet, finding cockroaches in my room and ants on all my counters or flies buzzing around while I was eating. Because look at how Katie was living and she was joyful… was I missing everything God had for me? I saw her blogs and how filled they were with scripture and stories of how great God is and started thinking I need to change how I write my blogs because hers are inspiring and mine are crap… blows my mind why people would want to read them in the first place.

I couldn’t stay in the comparison trap for long though because as I started to blame and hate myself, I heard a still soft voice speaking and I wanted to listen to that instead of the criticism running ramped in my head. God reminded me that I am not Katie. First, these are not her blogs, this is a story written based on her blogs and written with a professional writer and editor. I do not need to change the way I blog because I am not Katie. I need to be okay being me. Who cares if people read my blog or if they don’t. Instead of being someone else, and trying to have their experiences, I need to pray before I write and than have confidence that God will speak regardless of what I say.

I don’t need to wish for her life style but instead be thankful that God still gave me small blessings. He prepared Katie for the environment He put her in and He prepared me for the environment He placed me in. I would be miserable living in her circumstances, many people would be miserable living in mine. Instead of comparing, let me be thankful for family, friends, electricity, running and purified water, a grocery store, ability to buy chocolate, and for internet so that I can connect with people back home. My time will come when I will have far less and will rely on only God for friendship and comfort, when these things are not as easily accessible to me but I will praise God for what He has given me.

Finally, I felt like I was useless, I was in the office every day letting other people love the children. How was I helping? I was not doing what I had originally wanted to come her for. I had only seen the children and really been with the children when groups came. I could not make an impact with 2 days every-so-often. Do you see the “me”-“me”-“me” “I”-“I”-“I” in my thought process again? God reminded me of the prayer I said before coming. I didn’t know what the plan was or what Pastor Daniel would have me do. I knew I would have to be flexible and comfortable with change and living one day at a time, so I prayed that God would use me where I was needed most, that I would not try to make my own plans but that I would submit to the work He gave me, that He would use me in what ever area I was in to bring glory to His name. Suddenly I realized that Karen needed my help, without the work that we were doing, children would not have sponsorships, children would not be fed everyday, and children would not be able to go to school. While I may not be interacting with the children on a daily basis, I was working for them, I was working for God. He needed me to be where I was at that time. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the children were why I came. I wanted to know them and advocate for those without sponsors. God did put this uncontainable supernatural love in me for them so I longed to be with them.

How good is God? He is good! I had been busy with office work but now that annual registrations were done and I had translated many documents into English, I was sitting at the office with nothing to do, reminding myself God is using me where I will be used best for Him. Pastor Daniel came into the office and since I wasn’t doing anything, we went into his office and talked. We talked about a new assignment he had for me. It was something he had been doing but honestly did not have the time for. I told him I could help. It felt good to be useful again. He than asked how I was doing. I told him I was struggling because I wanted to be with the kids but I wanted God to put me where I was needed. At that Pastor Daniel said okay, lets send you out. We looked at the calendar and I will be in Los Pinos starting on Monday 3 days of the week, I will have 2 office days and I will have a day off. The following week will be the same with Nueva Suyapa, the following week I will be with Soroguara. After that I will go to Teupasenti and stay there for two weeks (this will be my time to experience the real missions life, not grocery stores, no internet, and really being in the field… careful what you wish for right!). When I come back, my family will visit and then we will have a little over a month with a team every week. Once that is over I will do one day at the 3 nearby points each week for 2 weeks and then Action Church will come and take me home. Thinking of my time here like that makes me realize how quickly it is all going by. It makes me sad that it will be over so fast. I am so thankful that God took care of me. He saw my hearts desire and as soon as I surrendered what I wanted to His will He blessed me!

Talking to Pastor Daniel was very encouraging but also convicting. We talked about culture shock and how my adrenaline had finally worn off and I was starting to really be hit with the reality of it. He told me that I needed to be careful because many missionaries did not like the discomfort of culture shock and found other North American missionaries to be with all the time. Because of that, they never fully immerse into the culture and understand it. I could see his point. We talked about how I always want to fix things. How I see a problem and do whatever I can to find a solution but I have to stop. He said “there are to many problems and if you help one there are at least 1000 identical case… you have to accept it, you are not God therefore you are not capable of fixing it or finding a solution.” That part was hard for me because that really is my personality. I do not think I am God but when I see someone struggling, I can’t just watch and say well that’s how it is. In my opinion, that takes away my loving heart. I don’t look at the whole picture, I look at the pieces, how can I help one? If I can handle it, how can I help another? Maybe I can’t do anything… WRONG… I can pray! I know thousands more children have the same problem and I can’t help them all but why would I see a problem and say its too much so I wont help anyone why would I rationalize laziness that way? Why would God bring me something that touches my heart in a painful, aching way, if He wanted me to ignore it? I’m not trying to solve Honduras, but if I can help 1 child, isn’t that something? I don’t know. I really need to submit to Pastor’s authority and at least try to see the way He does, I don’t want to allow my fund raise, solution planning mind keep me from being in the moment or keep me from understanding the country but when God lays something on my heart it physically hurts. I pray but if I can do something I will, I will submit my work to the Lord and trust He will guide it but I cannot stand by and watch injustice and be okay.

As we talked about culture shock, I told him that although I was not in a good place last week and needed to handle it better, some very real issues did arise. One very large issue was that I was not being filled up at church. I wanted to pour out to others but I was not being filled. Church has 3 components. These three are what make church a necessity. These are the reasons we cannot stay home and say I’m okay because I read my bible, it’s about a relationship not about legalism of attendance. Church is not legalism, 1. It is a place of worship. You can worship by your self but being a part of the body and lifting up his name, as one voice is different. “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am”(Matthew 18:20). 2. Hearing a message from a pastor who has studied and has been called by God to receive insights and share them with the church is going to fill you in a different way. Nothing can replace the bible, nothing is better than the bible, but I truly believe that as a Christian you must allow yourself to be fed by different sources and be encouraged by a word or an insight the Lord gave to one that He called to be a pastor. God appointed pastors, preachers and apostles and gave them insight before new Christians had a bible. Although we have the Word now, I believe God has still anointed people to reveal to the body what He has revealed to them. 3. Community. To be in the body of Christ, you must be with the body of Christ. Would you expect your body to work and function the same way if you took one of your lungs out and put it some where else and said don’t worry, its still a part of my body but it is strengthening itself over there, its still strong, its still working as best as it can because it belongs to me, but its doing it alone. NO! You must be in the body to function correctly and to achieve everything God has for you. God calls us for relationships despite the fact that they wound us. We are all broken so we must come together and strengthen each other. With these 3 components, the Lord fills you with strength, knowing that He will hold you up, the awe of how great He is as you feel his presence and lift up His name reflecting on all that He has done, how powerful He is and all that He will do, it is amazing. He fills you with the nourishment you need from His Word to go out and have the energy, encouragement, and conviction to follow in His step and abide in him. But there is just something so amazing about studying with your spiritual family. (Sorry, I know I’m rambling about my opinions, they have just become very strong now that I feel I am with out MY church).

My problem was this, 1. We worshiped in Spanish. I did not know what praise we were giving and found myself trying to translate and study Spanish during worship. My happiness came from understanding the Spanish words, not from what they meant. I could not follow along with the Spanish service. Although I had the world’s best translator, my brain would listen to her and to Pastor Daniel, get exhausted and drift off. I wouldn’t realize it but I hadn’t listened to the service and while others were receiving prayer and feeling renewed and refreshed for the week, I could tell you what Pastor Daniel talked about. 3. I had a community of probably 4 people. I spent most of my time alone before and after service as I watched everyone else connecting and hugging each other. I had the Los Pinos children to give me hugs but after the short exchange of Spanish words that I knew happened, the awkward starring could only last so long. Those who did speak English were in someway obligated to come talk with me because I looked lost standing alone. I told pastor Daniel I was feeling this way and I wanted to be filled. I was worried he would take it personally or think that I was saying his sermons were not enough for me. I told him I wanted to attend CCI, a church of missionaries from North America that was preached in English every Sunday at 4pm. This way I could still attend service on Sunday morning and Wednesday night but I could also attend a 3rd service that would feed me in other ways.

Pastor Daniel returned to the points he had made on culture shock and not allowing yourself to mesh with the culture and people because you run to your comfort. He talked about ways to fix my problems, giving me his notes in English or putting English subtitles on his Facebook live message so I could go home and watch the sermon again. He said he would be more intentional about having the English speakers in the church talk with me but did not want to segregate the English speaker by having an English bible study or anything like that. I appreciated everything he said he would do and was feeling a little more hopeful but I also felt like it would be difficult to bond with the English speakers when I knew Pastor Daniel was pushing them to me, it also sounded like it would require a lot of extra work. He said he didn’t want me to go to CCI because it would be likely that I would be so comfortable there that I would start seeing his church service as something “had to get through” so I could go to CCI. I would become a part of their community and not need to make the effort to become a part of the community at Family House of Prayer. I know myself, he was right. He didn’t have a good solution to my difficulties with worship so he suggested I go to CCI on Sunday and than we would talk, may I should attend once a month so that I can receive the worship aspect but not become a part of the church. I said I would go on Sunday and pray about it.

All in all, my talk with pastor Daniel was very encouraging… I included more of the discouraging points than the encouraging ones, I know, but the other things we talked about are not things that I am going to share here. I cried a lot of good tears as he said exactly what I needed to hear. I was excited for the future and we prayed and I felt peace. We talked for much longer than I thought we would and opps, I was late to Spanish because of it!

I did go to CCI on Sunday and Pastor Daniel was right. I loved it! I was comfortable! I cried during worship and took 2 and a half pages of notes during the sermon. God fed me and cleansed me of insecurities. It was fellowship week at CCI so after the service was over, we all went to eat at Pizza Hut/KFC. I really bonded with a lot of the people. We talked about our callings and our struggles. It was so amazing to connect with so many people. They really wanted to know me and wanted to know my story. They got my phone number so we could stay in contact. I felt so so so filled that I thought I would burst. Yet I felt heart broken because everything pastor Daniel said had been confirmed. I wanted to join their church. I wanted to be in one of their fellowship groups so I could bond with a group on a deep level as we met once a week to discuss the bible. Family House of Prayer does not have small groups but here CCI was making connections, relationship, and having people to “do life with” so easily to attain. I wanted to teach Sunday school for them. I missed getting to do that. They talked about how with a church of missionaries understands that there will be months at a time when you can’t attend because you may have teams or be in the mountains and they would never hold it against you. But the Pastor said, “while you are here, serve, be involved, be a member of the church”. That’s I want so bad.

I made the mistake of telling everyone at dinner how I want to be involved. After I said it, I was sad because I knew I couldn’t. With these people here I was already focused on this new group of fellow believers. I was more excited about next Sunday afternoon than I was about Sunday morning or Wednesday night. But Family House of Prayer is my church and I should be excited to go and egger to know the people of the congregation more.

I think everyone wants to have a church were you can walk in and it immediately feels like home. It’s hard to find! I feel I found it. But I can’t have it. I have to pray and really seek God’s guidance. God placed me in Family House of Prayer and that is where He put my ministry. I appreciate the ease that came with CCI but I know that God put me with Family House of Prayer and under the guidance of Pastor Daniel, not pastor John. I want to be fed, I want to be in community but I want to respect Pastor Daniel’s authority and I want to respect the location where God placed me. I want to respect the culture. I want to be comfortable but I don’t want to stray away form difficulty and live in comfort. With the struggle every week will come refinement. I need to remember that. I will attend CCI next Sunday until Pastor Daniel comes back from China in 2 weeks and I can talk with me about my feelings but until than I am praying that God will align the desires of my heart with His and that He will make it clear to me where to go.

Karen and I went to CCI with Sandy who I had met on Tuesday. I would love to share Sandy’s story with you because it is amazing and is such a testimony to following God’s call, but it is not my story to tell and I would not want to mess anything up. Maybe I’ll ask her to write it down so I can share it with you guys because it is so encouraging to see how God works. What I will tell you is Sandy is from the States and moved to Honduras with about a months notice. She has now lived here for 12 years but still struggles with the language. We went to the pool in her community and talked about life and ministry. She talked about how she was struggling to find coordinators who were bilingual, could take charge of a group and tell them no when they did something that was not safe but at the same time be able to follow authority and respect Sandy’s position as their leader. Of course, since I saw her struggling, I wanted to help. I thought about how many people from the states want to study abroad. Many people are event management majors and would love the chance to help plan and coordinate a group of missionaries. Many of them are bilingual and would love the chance to get to use their skill. I started thinking through Spanish speakers that I know, people who could use a year to just save money. In the end, all I can do is pray that God provides her with His solution and that He will provide the perfect people. After the pool we went back to her house made American comfort food and baked cookies. We talked for a long time before we watched movies. I thought that we were only going to spend the morning at her house but we ended up being there all day. I was surprised how quickly time flew by… time flies when you’re having fun right. I was planning on studying when I got home but I fell asleep as soon as I touched the bed. It was fun to be around someone from the states and eat comfort food from home. I really like Sandy! She was one of those people who I just automatically trusted. Sandy has an opinion about missions that was very eye opening. She works with missionaries so she knows a lot and sees all of the behind the scenes work. Some things I agreed with her on, other things I disagreed. My eyes were opened though as she explained some things to me in ways I had never thought about before. I would love to tell you about everything we talked about and share her opinions with you but this blog is already to long so maybe another time.

Here is a summary of the rest of my week. I have started trying to talk with my driver, Pastor René, and am very thankful that he understands my broken Spanish and helps me learn. It is frustrating sometimes but it is good for me. I got to talk to Astrid again and am so filled with joy every time we reconnect. I am so thankful that God gave me a best friend who continues living life with me no matter how far apart we are. One day when I had no work to do Oscar stopped by the office and it was fun getting to catch up. I enjoy getting to learn from him and getting to hear his insight on life. One day at the office we had no electricity or internet so I thought we would be leaving early and we ended up staying really late because even though we could not do computer work, God kept bringing random people to the church to speak with Karen. Some were members of the church and some were people walking by who felt called in. She was able to speak to them and give them encouragement. It was pretty awesome to see God’s mighty hand and how we worked during a “wasted day at the office.”

On Saturday morning, there was a retreat at the church so Karen could not go to her Chinese class. I assumed Pastor René would be at the retreat so I set up a different taxi driver. My second driver was busy but he had a friend who could take me who he said was trust worthy. Karen found out that Pastor René had an obligation in the morning and would not be going to the retreat so he was free to take me to class. So she called and canceled my other driver. I was waiting at 7:30 for Pastor René and watched time go by and he was still not there. I was getting worried because I did not want to be late to class because I knew my teacher teaches another class right after so she couldn’t extend. I was trying to call Karen but she was busy getting things ready, it was noisy and she was distracted. I guess there was a misunderstanding and Pastor René was waiting for me to call and confirm and I never did. My class started at 8, it was a 30-minute drive and I was still at the house at 8:05. I was getting frustrated and wanted to scream but than I remembered to breath. I said, “God I am furious right now. If I could speak Spanish I could have made the call and none of this would have been a problem. I want to be on time and be respectful of my teacher but I can’t do that like this. I need your help and your peace because I am freaking out.” I opened my eyes and Pastor René honked the horn because he was outside waiting. I ran out and jumped in the car. I don’t now how but he made it to the center before 8:20. I thought I would be 45 minutes late. Pastor René said he had to take care of something so he wouldn’t be able to pick me up until 9:45ish even though my class ended at 9. I wished I would have known so I could have brought something to do while I waited but I said okay and ran into my class. The ladies at the front desk said there was an emergency with the Italian teacher so they had to pull my teacher to instruct the class and instead one of them (who also taught English during the week) would be doing my private with me today. She did not have another class to teach, so she said she would still give me a full hour. Actually, we went over an hour. We finished the class and I thought about buying coffee but had no time because Pastor René pulled up. God had worked everything out. The timing was perfect. Okay God, I trust you and I know you will work things out for your good and glory. You are a sovereign Father who does not change or crumble under pressure. Thank you Father, for giving me true joy and lighting my step. Thank you for pulling me out of darkness and for not allowing me to be the me that I can so easily be but instead you train me and strengthen me so that I can be the me you intend for me to be.

I am so ready for this upcoming week of being at Los Pinos. I continue praying that God will bless the work of my hands and show me how to help. I cannot wait to see all the children and get to play and love them again. Los Pinos does have bilingual facilitators so it is a great place to start. I get butterflies from excitement just thinking about it! I cannot wait to see what God shows me!

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