Ladies and gentlemen, today marks three months. Where the time is going, I have no idea. It’s a funny thing. Some times I feel like I have lived three days in a 24 hr period. Then I glance back and weeks are already done and gone. If I tried to unpack the month of November, this post would be 2,000+ words and you all would grow bored and abandon reading it. So I’ll do my best to cram it into a “nutshell”, starting with the bitter and ending with the sweet.
I have been in a state of long, drawn out processing lately. I have grown to realize that my glorified view of long-term missions is just that. Glorified and out of sync with the realities of life on the field. Long-termers are just like me – human, complete with their own set of flaws and pitfalls and ever in need of God’s abundant grace. Especially when they are seeking to reach the lost, raise families in a God-honoring way, maintain healthy marriages, stay spiritually strong in often bone-dry places, and deal with never-ending cycles of culture-shock. The load! Not to mention they, are natural targets for the arrows of the enemy. The ministry of long-term missionaries has grown very heavy on my heart.
Then in one week’s time I managed to lose my wallet (which contained loads of Ariary, my debit card and a photocopy of my passport), get giardia (the bathroom became my residence for a few days) and get my backpack nicked in town.. It contained my cell phone, keys, more Ariary (Madagascar money) and my actual passport (rookie mistake, I know). Not much else to say about that week except that it was tough.
Both of my roommates leave in the month of December.
The holidays find me far from those that I long to be with.
Oh, and then for those who would laugh with me about the little things, two days ago I got off the bus in standstill traffic and fell flat on a nice little patch of slippery grass on the side of the road. You should’ve seen the faces pressed against the bus windows as the white girl bit it. Today I got on a bus that had some dodgy brakes. You can probably see where this is headed. The brakes gave out, a minor accident occurred, the bus was evacuated, I was dropped in the middle of Lord knows where. Eventually I caught a cab, but it wouldn’t start, so the driver just proceeded to coast down the road in the opposite direction of my destination. Fifteen minutes and a push-jumpstart later, we were off. All in a day here in Madagascar.
BUT, the sweet outweighs the bitter.
I have been immensely encouraged by the transparency of the long-termers I am surrounded by. I have not been fed a false view of missions. It is hard, no doubt. But they wrestle and they fight and Christ continues to be strong on their behalf.
A new debit card is coming in January, the giardia is gone, and my passport has already reached the US Embassy here in Tana. The little details were ironed out and God used the circumstance to once again draw helpless me into His strong, sovereign arms.
My roommates were, and still are gifts from God. The memories made, the laughs, the tea times, the support and the learning that we did alongside each other has been a blessing. Treasures that will mark the first phase of life here in Madagascar.
I do miss my friends and family, especially now. But distance truly has made my heart grow fonder. I have grown in such thankfulness for the precious people God has given me. Their hugs and their words and just seeing their lovely faces will be that much sweeter to me upon returning home. And also with the removal of all the fluff and festivities, the true meaning of the holidays has resonated in my heart.
I have received letters, messages, packages and done many Skype sessions. Thank you all for loving me so well.
Then there is the One who has loved me the best. In spite of my doubt, in the midst of my constant failings, and regardless of my delay in running to the safety of His arms, He continues to hold me. The tough days have come. I can testify to that. But this I can also testify to – joy in Him is boundless.