Before I begin writing this entry I would like to apologize for not posting on here since last week. It is my intention for the rest of the summer to post every other day but last week we were under some unusual circumstances that simply did not accommodate writing.
My life in Alabama is a very unique one and I am most certainly not immune to that fact. Yesterday, after a week of tedious repair work, we finally moved into the missions house we will be calling home for the next ten weeks. People slowly trickled in arriving by all different modes of transportation, from all walks of life, with all types of personalities but with one common goal: to love people and serve God. I sit in the living room in awed silence at how quickly complete strangers become like old friends finally coming back together after a long time away-all on seperate journeys but merging together for a single summer. My little family has grown to a home filled with nine brothers and sisters. As I talk with everyone of them I realize that everyone has their own struggles, their own triumphs, their own special story that God has given them. Each person has a special life to live that God has blessed them with and what causes me to remain even more amazed is that each person is choosing not to waste this life but rather to live it to the fullest by giving it away. My mind flashes to an old verse that I have heard my whole life Matthew 16: 25 "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." This summer all ten of us are living lives totally contradictory to what the world says we should do to find happiness: we are not making a ton of money, we have no free time, no relationships, no partying, nothing that "college kids normally do" but what we do have is a budget we live on, days packed with worship and serving, friendships that will last a life time, and more joy and love than we could ever contain within ourselves. I am quickly finding that happiness isn't found within two suitcases but rather it is found in trying to walk daily with my Savior. After my church service today I was spending a few spare moments sitting on the beach. As looked out across the horizon I saw the sun, I saw the mighty waves crashing along the soft, white sand beachs and I felt my breath catch within my throat. My God made this for me, for you, for enjoyment. He is simply trying to draw us back to Him. What I realized sitting on that beach is that whether on a beach in North Carolina, Alabama, California, Dominican Republic, Europe, Africa, or Eastern Asia my God is the same God, He loves all of the peoples staring at whatever ocean they are staring at the same, and He wants to dote on and love them all everyday in every way that He can. And suddenly as I sat realizing this my little world that was all about me suddenly got a whole lot bigger.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Landing back here was like coming home: the sights, the sounds, the smells, the laughters, the friendships so much is the same, but so much more has changed. Life seems pretty typical here almost as if I were made for this job. Prepare the missions house, love people, serve God that's what my life is all about right now. What sounds like a simple job description can be much more trying than I could have ever truly imagined. Today was my first day back in the Government Housing Community I will be calling home for the next few months and what I saw upon my return hit a place in my heart that hasn't been stirred in months. The hatred that has hardened these kids heart is deeper than any emotion or pain that I personally have ever felt. An attempt to hug a child was met by a smack in the face, the eyes set on the face of a six year old child looked back at you with wisdom and pain wise beyond their years, "I love you's" was retaliated with harsh and piercing "I hate you's". Sitting in the gym with thirty people (completely overwhelmed) I was watching the basketball games and dance parties when a fight broke out among some of the middle school boys. I have never seen fist thrown with such vigor nor have I seen such looks of intense hatred in ones eyes as they looked at another human. Myself and a few of the workers rushed to break up the fight and (fortunately) the physical damage was rather minor, but what really caught my eye was the boy involved. He walked away, tears in his eyes, but trying his best to fight them back-holding on to his pride with everything he had. I wanted to take him into my arms and explain to him "you don't always have to be the tough guy" or maybe "it's ok to cry" anything to ease the pain-a pain that wasn't caused by a few swings in a gym but rather a pain that was caused by years of having to be that tough guy to fit in around a neighborhood where that was not just the norm, but the expectation. Why am I here? The question crossed my mind more than once today: it crossed my mind when I was slapped, it crossed my mind when I was yelled at, it crossed my arm when I was ignored-but the resounding answer from my Savior crossed my mind even more "Because, when you "slapp", yell, and ignore me I still love you." I am here for a purpose, to love these kids and their parents, and let them know they have not been forgotten. I go through my life sinning ("slapping" God in the face), I yell at God with my actions when I diliberately walk the other way, I ignore him constantly-forgetting to say thank you for blessings and little things that bring happiness along the way. But, the amazing thing? He never says "Fine, I've had enough" and walks away; which is why I know that quitting is not an option for this summer. I have a mission and I have a purpose: to love unconditionally just to give these kids a little taste of the love and forgiveness that has been showered on me.
Friday, May 17, 2013
I feel like I have lost my mind. What would cause a ninteen year old to travel 667 miles, 11 hours away from home, alone and without a schedule of what my life will look like for the next three months? Only the love of an all powerful and all knowing Savior I assure you. I started the tedious packing project last night-4 hours in total when you calculate all of the shopping we had to do-and afterwards I had a terrifying realization; MY ENTIRE LIFE FITS IN TWO LITTLE SUITCASES. I feel a little ridiculous as I shut my closet door (still completely full of clothes) and look around at my bedroom (still fully furnished), what does all this stuff mean in the long run? Absolutely nothing, it is just that-STUFF. If all of this was gone what would my life be, what would it all mean? Life is so much more than books on the bookshelf or cute clothes to wear around campus; it is about people, living, breathing, laughing, crying humans made in the image of God. People have asked me all week "Aren't you afraid?" "You will be all alone, doesn't that terrify you?" the answer is YES that absolutely scares me to death. But, I am much, much more afraid of complacency. I am more afraid of settling down in this little town to a comfortable life and missing the beautiful and perfect plan that God has for me somewhere beyond the bounds of my wildest dreams. So here I am: terrified and about to embark with my two little suitcases, a heart full of love, and a journey ahead.