As much as I loved traveling, seeing other missionaries, and meeting new friends, I am so glad we are back at Mariann. I feel more grounded being here with our students and our friends in the community—they have become our African family. Towards the end of April, I started to get an unexpected and strong wave of homesickness. I really struggled to be in the present and not let my mind wander to thoughts of when we would return home. I let doubts creep in (i.e. are we really making an impact here, am I really utilizing our limited time here), which led to discouragement. But just as God has provided for us immeasurably, He lifted me up in multiple ways.
First, seeing the smiling faces of our kids was a wonderful welcome. But soon after we arrived back at Mariann, we had such an encouraging visit from Monte Cox, David Hatfield, and Phil Hoggard—three elders from Downtown Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas. Their presence and kind words were so edifying. We also gained a new teammate, Abbie, who is so Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. The three of us have had so many great conversations about God in the past few weeks. God knew what I was feeling and provided just what I needed when I needed it. Mom sent me a calendar where she wrote encouraging verses on random days. Strangely enough, the verse for May 10 was from I Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” That was the same day that Abbie arrived. J
At the same time, though, God has been working on me. I love it when He gives you a wake-up call at a time when you don’t even realize you are asleep. Even being in as wonderful a place as Sang’alo, Kenya, Satan will still attack you. In fact, I think it may be easier for him to catch you off guard because you think you are safe. I wish I could expound more on some things that God has shown me lately, but I will focus on two:
First, God has given me this sense of urgency to proclaim His Gospel to everyone I meet. It sounds simple and obvious enough, but I know that I have been too relaxed for a long time. While reading the Prophets, one sees the terrible nature of sin and the urgency of God’s call to repentance and salvation. As our time winds down here, I feel an increased pressure to spend every moment wisely and intentionally. But why should life in general be any different? My days on this earth are numbered, and this world needs Jesus.
Second, God has given us His Holy Spirit to live in us. This also seems like a pretty basic Christian concept; but when you dwell on this simple fact, it will blow your mind! Part of the reason I was getting discouraged was because I was relying on me rather than the Spirit of God. As Kyle Idleman, the author of Not a Fan puts it: why would you choose to walk when you can ride? We choose to struggle on our own rather than get out of way so that God can work in us. Idleman also points out that we always say, “How cool would it be to be [insert person from Bible here] because he/she [talked to God, saw God, etc.]?” The truth of the matter is that we have God living IN us. When we get to heaven, these revered witnesses will be asking us, “What was it like to have the Holy Spirit living and working in you?” Pretty crazy thought.
As our friend Arap Chumba would say, “It’s like that.” I hope I didn’t ramble and made some ounce of sense. There are so many thoughts running through my head so I have difficulty writing them out.