Just shy of my 17th birthday, I moved back to the US to go back to my high school and graduate with my friends. Although I had taken two years in one to graduate early, I really wanted to have the senior year experience. My parents worked out the details and I lived with friends of the family. I enjoyed another year of cheering. I enjoyed my last year of high school. But I felt like an outsider looking in on a life I no longer understood. My friends had changed and moved on without me. My closest friends and I remained close but there was something different. I had changed. I had spent a year in full time ministry. We did mobile medical clinics and I translated for doctors and dispensed medications in the pharmacy. We did children’s ministries and I did puppets and wore a clown suit. We had construction teams and I helped with meals and preparations. I even worked with a dental team and they let hold the suction and even clean teeth (now I am a dental hygienist)!!! I did things that my 16 year old friends had never, and most of them will never do in their life time. How could I explain to them how it felt to be in a place where people are so appreciative of what you do that they go a day without eating to afford to serve you a meal as a thank you? How could I explain the way the mothers would look into my eyes and thank me for giving their child a dollar store toy and a sucker? How could I give them a sense of the beautiful scenery with volcanoes and lakes? Or a sense of the smells of black beans and tortillas? It was beyond my ability to communicate to those around me of my experiences that year. I grew distant to most of those I had been close to previously. And as time went on, I settled back into a new norm. I married and started a family, all while my parents continued to serve overseas. My love for missions quieted by the busyness of every day life.
Although I had visited my parents several times through the years, it was actually 13 years from when I moved home until I went on my next missions trip. In 2005, I went to Russia with the dentists that I worked with at the time. We did dentistry in an orphanage. It was amazing and cold! We were there for two weeks. The first week we did dentistry for child and adult orphans in Saint Petersburg. The second week we went to Moscow and visited a pastor and his wife and did some site seeing. I became miserable the second week as I missed my children so much. I was beginning to get frustrated with my choice to stay on the second week as I felt my contribution was completed after the dental portion of the trip was finished. But the second week became a time of growth and change for me as God continued a work in my life that He had started so many years prior. The pastor and his wife had a 6 year old daughter who was drawn to me, I don’t know why. She followed me everywhere I went. It was comforting to a point since I missed my own children who were 3 and 4 at the time. But it was also strange to me that this child would be so clingy to me. Then I started remembering how it was for me when I lived in Guatemala with my parents. The best times were when we had teams of people come down from the States. They would bring us gifts, like Jif creamy peanut butter and Hershey’s chocolate syrup. They would play with me and love on me. They were my friends when I otherwise had none. Each team member sowing into my life in a different way. As I sat and thought about this time in my life, God revealed to me an incredible opportunity ahead of me. I began to play with this child and be silly and laugh with her. Her parents were so excited for her new found friendship. I was in awe of God’s ability to use me in a way that seemed so insignificant to me. But God reminded me that there is nothing insignificant about showing God’s love to others.
Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
More to come….
*Party of 8*