Honestly… To say it feels like I’ve been here my whole life, that would be an understatement… First trip alone and yet I feel like this is my life. First week down… About 5 more to go… Though much of this feels the same, so much of it feels uniquely different. Here are some things I’ve observed this last week.
*Being a foreigner alone vs. a foreigner in a group is apparently a rare site*
Clarification… Being a black American female alone is rather unheard of. I can only imagine if/when I do move here… And I can communicate with the locals in their dialect and inflections! The staring this time has been a little more challenging for me. I don’t have anyone to bounce laughs off of to take my mind off of the fishbowl. I’m just there, being stared at, by everyone. Eh… Tis life… It does feel like I’m walking around naked though 😕
*Virginia is NOT the worst humid place in the summer*
First day, my first tweetable phrase: “Oh Lord Jesus, the blanket of sweat!” Ya… I knew it would be hot but I feel like Jim Carey in the mask 😱 jaw dropped… Sweltering… I am looking forward to the water weight loss… I can’t believe Jesus made such heat… Not sure how everyone is still BREATHING… LeBron would surely be crying in a corner in this Heat lol… It’s not for the faint of heart. When stores are blowing their aircon OUTSIDE of their doors, just to entice you to enter… That’s when you know it’s real. Now this would make me want to go outside naked! But then again, refer to note above 😅
*Despite much I’ve learned! I have NO confidence conversing in Mandarin*
Ugh… 我的中文是很不好 I could hide behind a keyboard and type the little I know. At this point, I could tattoo 我不知道 on my forehead! I do laugh when I say something right and people give me the double take. I also silently laugh when I understand people talking about me 🙊. But overall, I’m more like Elsa when it comes to speaking NORMAL SIMPLE THINGS like “do you speak mandarin” ugh #frozen #brainfartcentral … But the one phrase I’ve got MASTERED… 我觉得很累 – “I feel very tired” Ha 哈哈 ya… I got that one down!
On a serious note… I am feeling overwhelmed with joy and inner peace; all that I could have ever asked for. Sure life is progress and, Lord willing, I am nowhere near my finish line. But to say I am crossing over into a newness, I never imagined… That is something I can’t accurately put into words.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Despite the clichés of this passage, I hold firmly to the evidence of this in my life. Above all else, I know that God has handwritten my story before I was even a vapor. He has promised never to abandon me. Despite my own hide & seek and runaway missions, I know that the end of my story is all GOOD. Because of His unending grace, every U-turn, detour and off the cliff experience I have endured (and have yet to encounter) ALL end in my favor.
The Evidence… Encouraging moments…
I’m moving again today… This morning I was unsure of the plan. I had a feeling movement was happening but I was desperate for some confirmation. My friends were all offline while I sat quietly in prayer and worship. Bags packed, dressed and ready to go wherever He had planned, I waited… As soon as I got up to move, heaven opened. All contacts fell into place and direction was made clear. The last thing said by my friend was this: “dark does not necessarily mean no light. But confusion…” … Things that make you mighty contemplative… After all was in place, all communication was lost. Faith had to take its work. No longer could I rely on the words of my anchors… Instead I had to get out of the boat and TRUST that I was safe in His hands. The definition of pilgrimage… Walk by faith and not by sight.
As I carried out the direction of the day I saw three signs of His ever presence…
1) As I was getting my last metro ticket to head to the airport, I saw this woman with a large simple tattoo of a cross on her neck. So plainly at eye level, I couldn’t have missed it if I tried. Heard, “He goeth before me…” He has paved the way…
2) As I got my ticket and pushed through the line at security, a lady was wearing a shirt that said “Let Us Pray.” Again a rarity here in the land. Another reminder to remain in communion… For He is with me.
3) A couple minutes into my metro ride to the airport, another lady had a shirt that read “Every time I think of you I give thanks to my God.” That sincerely is my thoughts on this land. I am so thankful to be called to this land and through all of the ebb and flow, I am filled with an overwhelming love for these beautiful people, created and loved by God.
New LIFE long friends…
Gathered along the way…
From Ruth Robb…
It is vital to know you are never finished, you will never be perfect, you will always fall short. It is vital to know you are hidden in Christ, and Almighty God can use other people besides you.
Love God. Know who (and whose) you are. Remain teachable.
It is a weakness in the body of Christ that some of us have a monopoly on the truth.
There are no shortcuts to Holiness…