Before I get into the exciting Honduras details, you’ve got to patiently wade through the muddled details of the story leading up to the healing. We’ve all had those experiences that cut so deeply that we avoid any conversation or thoughts about it. For me that experience was the World Race in January/February 2015. I identify that experience as my greatest failure and hurt. Now don’t misunderstand me- I said it was my failure, but God didn’t fail in that experience. He was with me every step of the way into getting on that plane to India as well as on that flight back to the States nine and a half months earlier than anticipated. He’s faithfully used my mistake to cultivate humility in my heart that otherwise I would have been lacking. Something that he taught me from this wounding experience is to ask myself this: Will it be easier to stay or easier to go?
When I came home in February 2015, it was painful. I remember asking myself before I left, would it be easier to stay and finish the next 9 months or return home to face how I’ve been running away from what to do with my life? I struggled with talking to the people who had sacrificially donated to my trip only for me to squander their money by quitting the mission trip. I abused sleep-inducing cold medicine for my first week home because I’d rather sleep than face my reality. It would be easier to sleep than to face my problems. My reality was that I had been a poor steward of money for a mission trip, and I had never let down so many people at once. Nobody was personally upset with me but more with the situation. I also was terrified because I had some ideas about what I wanted to do when I returned home and was terrified when I actually sat down to further investigate that path and felt God telling me “no”. I thought I had clearly heard God calling me into something, but I was wrong. It would be easier to start a new career path than to turn back and humbly accept that I had made a mistake in quitting the teaching program. I was left to sit in my mess of confusion. I remember the heavy snow that same down during that February. I remember singing about how Jesus washes us whiter than snow. In that moment I remember that nothing is untouchable or unchangeable by Jesus’s blood… not even the mess of a life I had created for myself. You see, the reason I had signed up for the World Race was because I was running away from some things. I was scared and a year of traveling around the world seemed like a great way to simultaneously escape my fear as well as serve God, so I signed up. My life was in such disarray because I had spent the entirety of 2014 earning my Master’s degree… It would be easier to spend a year serving than figuring out what to do with my degree. I worked on my Master’s degree because I was running away from what God had first called me to: teaching.
It was August 2013. I sat in a Newport News elementary school classroom for a day of professional development. My heart raced, I grew flushed, and I fled the scene. I got in my car, drove a teary-eyed hour to my parent’s house, and declared I didn’t want to teach anymore. I reckon that is what is referred to as a panic attack. Unfortunately, I ran away from teaching and never looked back. If I had, I may have been able to recognize that it was simply the age group that freaked me out, not the profession of teaching. I eventually figured that out, but I took the long way around… as in India. It took me seventeen months and being halfway around the world to realize something God has already laid on my heart: teaching was what God had for me. That was my vocational calling. My dad gently reminded me of my love for teaching and encouraged me to apply for the open position at the high school in my town. Long story short, I got the job and fell madly in love with teaching again. However, while my heart was softening to teaching, my heart was hardened to mission work.
In my mind, I wasn’t cut out for missions, especially internationally. I spent the last half of 2015 and the entirety of 2016, as well as the present, pouring into ministries and discipling people in my community, but my heart remained hardened to the call to go past the borders of the good ole U. S. of A. Not being designed to serve in international missions was a lie I chose to believe because I didn’t ever want to ask anyone to financially support me ever again. I chose to believe the lie because I didn’t ever want to leave for another mission trip and quit. The way I see it, you can’t quit if you don’t try, so I fell into contentment of being within my comfort zone. Every time I heard the announcements for the Honduras trips at church I felt that tinge… you know, the warm feeling within urging us to “go”. I was so wrapped up in believing the lie that I ignored it for two years. One Saturday I was serving at the Coastal Food Pantry and a dear friend made it known that there was an open spot on the 2017 Spring Break trip to Honduras. My heart sank. I told him I’d think about it. You see, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. If I was going to be an international missionary, I was going to make sure that I was running toward something and not away from something.
Around that time Coastal had a sermon about restitution. It came to mind that weekend as I was praying about the decision to go to Honduras. As I listened to the leaders describe the details of the trip, I felt my heart softening. Could it be that going to Honduras might bring restoration for the pain of the World Race experience? Could God possibly want me to be a missionary for him outside of my community? As I prayed for direction, my hardened heart turned to putty. I submitted my deposit the next week. I had to face a myriad of memories and emotions from the whole process of prepping for the World Race, going to training, the highs of leaving, the lows of returning, and how it had taken every bit of the past two years to resolve the pain from that hurtful experience. Being in Honduras last week definitely assured me that I am cut out for international missions. However, I didn’t become fully healed until this past Sunday when I returned home to my church family. I had a brief yet tremendously significant conversation with the friend that had invited me to Honduras. My friend told me he was glad that I went, and he could tell that God used our time in Honduras to return me to another call in my life: international missions.
I do not know the capacity of this calling yet. I know that last week I encountered God in many beautiful new ways. I know that leaving Honduras was harder than leaving Nepal and India. The ministry I did in the latter two countries was enjoyable, but serving the community in Honduras changed my heart. Would it be easier to stay in America or jump into ministry in Honduras now? It would be easier to leave everything behind and run to Honduras now, but I know that God has made it clear that I shouldn’t take the easier road. I trust that God has softened my heart for Honduras for a reason, and I trust that he has a purpose for me there in a capacity that is yet to be determined. Pictured below is a snapshot of the ministry that captivated my heart.
I was deeply in my element at this hospital in the *non-air conditioned* maternity ward. I couldn’t wait to visit each woman and get in there with prayer. Pictured above was one of the women I was able to pray for concerning her pregnancy. I deeply enjoy engaging with people and God in prayer. It is a beautiful intimacy, and I cannot get enough of it. The presence of the Holy Spirit was with me! I felt led to do many things, but that’s a story for another blog! To be continued…