“I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness, Hope to feel Your presence. I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You. And I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside. And I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home, never let these walls down.
I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day about missionaries. It was something that I knew and have felt but never had heard spoken out loud. We feel like we are called to go and work in a foreign land and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We know the Word and the message that God wants to bring to these people. We know the healing that God has for them and we will go and bring it to them. What I think we don’t realize or can so easily forget, is the message and the healing that God has these people bring to US. Just like these song lyrics say, I will go where you lead me Lord, knowing what that means: that if I go you will change ME from the inside and break these walls down. This is not always a graceful thing to realize or accept. When you are in a different country trying to minister to others, God uses those people and experiences to expose deep rooted pain and internal issues that you might not have known you have. Now here you are, alone in this country, with just you and God dealing with this amazing mess of healing.
When you start a new job, you have expectations. Expectations of how fulfilling it will be, how good you will be at it, what you will contribute to it, what you will get out of it, what relationships you will make along the way and what you will learn from it. When you move to a new city you have expectations. Expectations of the new friendships you will develop, of the new amazing church you will find, of the fun places there will be for you to visit, of that favorite restaurant you will discover and love. But, I never really thought about my expectations of the mission field. I just knew that God sent me here and I had to go believing that He will work out the rest.
When I moved back to Los Angeles about a year ago, I knew what I needed to be successful in my journey. I needed community. I found it immediately with awesome new people at Basileia, my church in Hollywood, thanks to my brother and his friends. When I left this Spring for Haiti, I felt confident and blessed by the community of friends and family back home who were partnering with me and praying for me which I knew would be the only way I could be affective here. I knew that when I got off of the plane, God would be here to embrace me and guide me since he sent me here in the first place. I assumed that is all I would need. The thing I wasn’t expecting is to still need community. Although my support from back home is so huge and it encourages me daily, I’ve come to realize that it’s not enough. It might sound silly, but I didn’t realize that everywhere I go, the person that God created me to be doesn’t change. I think I just sub-consciously thought that God would transition those feelings and needs into something totally different in Haiti. The things that He created me to crave and long for are still there. He definitely fills in those gaps and adjusts to my surroundings somewhat, but the core need doesn’t change. It might look different, but it is the same. I need like-minded people around me that are going through similar day to day activities and struggles. People that I can relate to and can encourage and lift me up. I desire to have a partner to share my calling to this country and to walk this journey with me. I need to feel like my gifts and talents contribute to my success here and my experiences can make a difference in other people’s lives.
Fortunately, I feel I have found most of those things since I have been here. I know I long for more and that will never change but I am so blessed with what I have. I have a position (although everyday looks completely different than the one before) I believe I am really contributing to and believe I am needed here for. I am privileged to work for an organization and people that appreciate me and what I have to offer in service to others. People who have been around for a long time and have lived and learned things I need to know. I believe that we can continue to learn and grow together.
That said, I am still looking for the right community The Lord has for me. I had the amazing blessing of my parents coming to visit for an entire week a little bit ago and we had a blast. I will be honest and say that some definite loneliness has set in since they left though because I have really realized what it would be like to have a better support system here. Not just on the phone or online, but present right here. As I am sitting in my room feeling alone and sorry for myself the other day and wondering why God would send me here to be all alone, I had a very humbling moment. I realized that I haven’t even talked to him about my feelings and what I sense I need. I haven’t even asked him to open up the right doors for the community that I need here, believing that he wants that for me also. My prayers are often about other things and other people and I struggle to be honest with myself about what I think God can do for me.
I have met people since I’ve been here that are pro’s at this whole Missionary thing. I’ve also met a lot of people that are still figuring it all out. I am definitely still figuring it out, but I’m a newbie. I know that God has a community for me here and I will pray that I will find it. Or maybe God is saying that it is my responsibility to create it! To find the other Cynthia Foster’s, other newbie missionaries who need each other and help create a community for us here. Either way, I am going to talk to God and be honest with Him about my needs and wants. It seems so simple…”Tomorrow’s Freedom is Today’s Surrender!” 🙂