My friend Krisi knows just how to encourage me. Just now, she got me ABSOLUTELY beaming (and knew that I was beaming – over the phone, she’s just that good). She reminded me, a week into being home and support raising, that I DID IT. I’m here! I worked hard on applications, I worked hard to finish school, and I’m here – on the other side as a missionary. All this by the grace of God.
But it’s been a longer road than that.
When I was looking at colleges in 2003, I swore off Bible schools. “No way,” I thought, “I want to go to a liberal arts college.” Guess where I ended up going? Philadelphia BIBLICAL University (I think the “university” threw me off and I didn’t entirely realize it was a Bible college!) well when I came back from my first missions trip (Australia, 2003), I decided I was done with the whole missions thing. I did my time, I had the experience, and I even had a few t-shirts. It wasn’t until the fall of 2004 when I started PBU that God started to slowly creep the idea of missions into my mind. My two best friends were missionary kids. My suitemate was a missionary kid. My professors had been missionaries. Worse still – the churches in the area AND my university had these things called “mission conferences” when we heard from missionaries, prayed for missionaries, and gave to missionaries. Crazy concept for a girl who grew up thinking missionaries were all old people who lived in African villages. The idea intrigued me, but I wouldn’t jump on this bandwagon mindlessly. I had friends who did not have easy times growing up in a different culture, and even harder times adjusting to this one. Languages are not simple to learn, money does not come out of nowhere, and besides – what can I do?
I had a desire to go to Africa. South Africa, actually – they speak English and have lions. I also had a desire to go to India. My differences from them felt like the difference Paul might have felt going to the Gentiles. If he could do it, so could I. Well, I ended up in Europe on a choir tour and when I first learned “How Great Thou Art” in Polish, I absolutely hated the language. Too many consonants, not enough vowels, and how on earth am I supposed to make these sounds? I was excited for Germany and Prague, but Poland – eh, I could take it or leave it. Take it I did, and I ended up falling in love with the country and language. Actually, hearing Polish is one of the things I miss most when I come back to the states. Give me those crazy sounds and consonants any day.
I never understood the concept of “church planting.” With my missions class in college, we visited a missions agency near campus that specialized in church planting. I decided that I would never join that organization. I thought, “Why can’t we just go and make disciples? Why do we need to plant churches?” (I guess I didn’t play out the whole scenario in my mind – once you make disciples, then you need a place for them to gather!) Well guess what SEND‘s focus is on? You guessed it, church planting.
If I was going to be a missionary, I should live overseas. That’s how it’s done, right? Being in America is the launchpad with people just itching to get out on the field. I can’t sit still for too long. Yet I see how God prepared me for this one. Remember that suitmate? Her dad works in SEND’s International office in Michigan. Yes, he works in the United States. And yes, he’s a missionary. I did not understand this at first. And he, what? He raisies support? To live in the States? I guess you’re sensing the theme by now. And yes, I am a missionary working in the United States and raising my support.
It’s bigger than that, though – I’m doing something that fits me better than I could have imagined. Planting churches may not be my thing right now, but I’m mobilizing other people to plant churches. I’m gathering the workers to go out to the field, plant the seeds, and reap the harvest. I’m doing something I do best – connecting people. So “What can I do?”? God had it in mind all along. He knew exactly where He wanted me and exactly what He was preparing me for. And HE is the one that changes my heart along the way so that today I can sit here and know without a shadow of a doubt that it was the Lord God who had brought me to this place and has called me into His service and that He will provide for me.
I also never really wanted to go to Eastern Asia. I guess you can imagine where I’ll be going if my life continues on this track. I also went through a time in my life when I didn’t want to have kids. But there’s never been a time that I haven’t wanted to get married – so I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see how God works that one out.