One of my greatest struggles so far this Mission Year has been dealing with the fact that my life this year differs in many ways from the expectations I had. It's ironic, because I thought I didn't have many expectations - I didn't know what to expect. But they were there. I thought we would be living, working, and attending church all in the same neighborhood. I thought I would choose my service site. I thought I would be living with, at most, 5 others.
Instead, I live in one neighborhood and work and go to church in another (some of my teammates live in one neighborhood, work in another, and go to church in yet another). Service sites had already been picked out before we came to Houston and we were placed there. I live with 9 others.
I've been realising this year how stubborn I am. When things don't meet my expectations, I try to make them (but don't worry, I love my teammates - I haven't tried to get rid of any of them). Perhaps in some ways my dissatisfaction with certain aspects is valid, but this is where I am, and this is how things are, and God works all things for good.
My city director used a puzzle analogy with me. She talked about how each piece in a puzzle is different, but equally important. Some pieces are filled with colours and objects and excitement - and some are plain. Each piece alone is nothing, but together they make a beautiful picture. If any one piece is missing, there will be a gap, whether it be a plain piece or a colourful piece. The puzzle needs them all.
So instead of trying to hammer pieces in where they don't fit, or add in pieces from another puzzle, I need to accept and appreciate each piece for what it is and what it brings to the overall picture.
On Tuesday Anton came from LaGrange and did a training with us. He was talking about immigration, but his point was applicable to all forms of oppression. He used the passage from Exodus about Moses and the burning bush. "The Lord said, 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them...'" (Exodus 3:7-8)
Anton focused on how God said that He 1) saw 2) heard 3) knew the suffering of His people and then rescued them.
1) See - see the injustice, the suffering. See the people waiting in line all day, bundling up against the biting winds, for a loaf of bread and some onions.
2) Hear - hear the cries of the oppressed. Hear the refugee mother's frustration at not speaking English and struggling to provide for her 5 children.
3) Know - be there with them. Walk beside them. Be in solidarity with them and their suffering.
The Mission Year board was here on Friday. They came to our house for breakfast. We thought they would be arriving at 9:30, but it turned out to be 9:00. So when they came they found us in our living room doing our morning devotions - many of us still in our pajamas. It was classic. Pretty much like an ad for Mission Year. :D
So we rushed to get dressed and tidy up. Andy made pancakes for breakfast and we talked with the board members about our experiences so far. I was really thankful for the opportunity because it drove us to look at the big picture of our Mission Year to this point, describing the beauty, redemption, and ways we see God working. It was kind of a refocusing for me, a chance to bring things into perspective. We shared struggles as well, and what we've been learning and how we've been growing. It allowed me to see how things fit together, how each piece of this year is so important - like the puzzle.
Love to all,