Thursday, February 18, 2010

It was good...

I've been in something of a funk. I've been told by friends who've been on similar mission trips that this kind of heaviness is normal. Something I'm glad to know because, well, I was wondering.

Friends, family, acquaintances, all are asking: How was the trip? They want to know. They are excited to know. I want to answer. I just don't know how.

Sometimes I say it was good. And it was. It was good to go. The Lord was good in His faithful provision. Proclaiming the gospel is always good. Making new friends, definitely good. Gaining a global perspective, being a part of God's plan for the nations, experiencing a culture in stark contrast to my own: all of that is good.

It was good.

It seems an inadequate answer though, because one word can't begin to describe all that I saw, felt, experienced. It was good, yes. It was also at turns heartbreaking and hilarious. Joy, grief, homesickness, worship, wonder, inadequacy, humility, exultation--all these emotions were mine at some point or another, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes in such a sudden weight that I couldn't (and can't) find words to begin to articulate the experience.

I tried, to find words. I took a small journal with me and each day attempted to list the events and emotions, the sights and sensations that I wanted to remember. I thought the act of jotting down phrases would serve as a remembrance, a guard against forgetfulness, and it does. To some extent.

My life here, now, today, is in such direct contrast to all that I witnessed in Nicaragua that I struggle to reconcile the two. That week in Nicaragua seems like it happened to someone else, despite the fact that I feel its repercussions reverberating deep within. Though at times it seems surreal in retrospect, I know the reality in my heart: I am different. Glory to God, I am different.

On Thursday of our trip, those of us who had spent the first part of the week in Nuevo Guinea went out to one of the poorest sections of Juilgapa, Los Torres. Our leader wanted to visit a woman there and take her some rice and beans and other provisions. This woman is a mom, a widow, with three sons at home, two of which are disabled and unable to walk. Their living conditions were deplorable, just as the rest of the homes in Los Torres. You cannot imagine it and I cannot describe it to you. Even as I was struggling to make sense of all that my eyes were seeing and all that my heart was feeling, our leader asked me to pray aloud for this family, for this woman, a fellow believer and sister in Christ, and, for her boys.

What does one pray for? As we walked through the three rooms that comprised her home, I thought of the health and wealth gospel hustled by so many so-called preachers. What promise does this woman have for her best life now? She can't even visualize a daily supply of water or indoor plumbing. Her request of us? A washboard.

I prayed, with a broken heart, for God's protection. That He, in His sovereign purposes, might have mercy. For His divine strength to sustain her as she cared for her boys. For hope.

I know that Christ is her only hope. Bringing her rice and beans is necessary and good and God-glorifying. Yes, indeed. But ultimately, such gifts will only sustain for a time. A couple of weeks, maybe more. Finally, ultimately, her only hope is in Christ. He is all she has.

One day she and I will stand before the Lord, shoulder to shoulder, as sisters in Christ. We both of us will only have one plea: the finished work of Jesus Christ. He is her only hope. He is mine as well.

I don't understand the Lord's purposes. I know His Word says He determines the exact times and places we live. I don't understand why in His sovereign wisdom He ordained that I know such plenty and she such want. Again I must remember: the only hope she has, the only hope I have, the only hope any of us can know is found in Christ.

So, yes, the trip was good. Thank you for asking. I really do plan to post more details and pictures. Soon, perhaps.

12 comments:

  1. This verse: "...For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48 devastates me when I begin thinking about how much plenty I enjoy here and what a blessing to have grown up in a Christian home and to have been exposed to so much excellent Bible teaching, and how much want so many in the world suffer, and how too often I am absolutely blind to even the needs close around me, not to mention in far away places. And I don't just speak in terms of the physical needs, but the spiritual. And, sister, you have done more than I have in that you have actually gone. I have only thought. I think you have hit on the most important understanding any of us can ever reach in saying that truly the only hope any of us have is in Christ.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Praise God for the changes you sense.

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  2. Beautifully written, my dear friend. Amen.

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  3. Thank You Lisa! Thank you for going. Thank you for being lead. Thank you for leading others. THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

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  4. A friend of mine went to Liberia last winter, and when she came back, she had very similar emotions as yours. One of the things she concluded though, was that she did have to learn to accept the contrast between what she saw there and the affluence of her own life here in North America. She went back again just last week for another trip.

    I look forward to some pictures!

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  5. I will wait patiently. I'm sure it DOES take time to mentally process and, as you say, reconcile the two lives. Clearly this will change you and I'm excited to hear whatever thoughts and wisdom you have gained as a result of this experience. Already I can tell it was monumental and so I'm eager to hear but patient to wait for it. =)

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  6. It's actually a huge pet peeve of Corey's to be asked upon his return from a mission or relief trip: "So, was it a good trip?"

    I've watched him stop, look the person in the eye and say, "Well, let's see. I saw dead bodies in the streets, I watched women cry as they told me about having their children ripped from their arms. I talked to one man who lost his house, his fishing boat, and 18 of his 20 extended family members. No. I wouldn't say the trip was particularly good. But I saw God working, and the people I was with are offering hope. Is that what you mean?"

    Sometimes, we are too glib with our questions. I will pray God continues to meet you right where you are right now.

    (If you haven't already, do some searches for post-trip reactions over at Shaun Grove's blog. He has many wise words to say.)

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  7. Oh, Lisa.
    I am ashamed to be so out of touch.
    You have alot going on, girl.

    I think you are wise to be processing your thoughts about your tip; on track with feeling the weight of it all.
    Your words will come. They already are coming.

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  8. Welcome back.

    I'm glad you shared. I will be praying for the heaviness to lift and God's wisdom to richly light your path as you press on living. Hope in His glory! The darkness does not win.

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