Christmastime is an interesting time of year. Everyone has their own idea of what the season is supposed to be like and feel like. Going into missionary work this year again, I knew that this Christmas would look different than normal. I wasn’t able to make it to my parent’s house last year for Christmas either, not knowing that this year I would be living on another continent and unable to visit for a year and a half. It didn’t really feel like Christmas at all here. It was pretty warm, and I am used to snow on Christmas. There were not a ton of decorations except for the Christmas trees in the plazas and the common singing stockings and lights that are EVERYWHERE. I am not sure why I am annoyed by singing lights so much, but I am. Our host family built a big nativity scene in the living room. We had a Christmas party with one of the missionary families here, and it was so wonderful. However, overall, everything just seemed really weird. I went into the season without any expectations and I was still surprised…not sure by what, but it didn’t feel like home for the first time since I’ve been here.
Most of the families here in Peru celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve and stay up until 2, 3, 4 in the morning dancing and watching the fireworks. CJ and I bailed about 1:45am and went to bed since we were flying out of Arequipa in the morning of Christmas Day. We decided to spend some time meeting the families of our Peruvian friends in the northern part of Peru, and Lord willing, we will be going to Machu Picchu for New Year’s, a dream of CJ and I’s for a long time. It has been a fantastic trip so far, but there have been moments for the both of us that have been difficult with a few tears.
I have been enjoying the time that I have had during the flight and bus rides to think through some things that often are placed on the back burner during our busy lives. It has been great to just bask in God’s presence, but I have struggled somewhat in this area in the past couple weeks. For some reason, I felt so far away from Him. During this trip, however, I have had a couple pretty impactful moments with God.
Yesterday during the bus ride, a song by Dave Barnes came on my iPod. The song talked about home being with the person the man loved, rather than a place where he is living. God really connected the dots between some things that He has been revealing to me about my future and also the strange feelings I had toward this Christmas. The chorus of the song says: “I will never be a stranger; I will never be alone because deep inside of me I know that wherever you are is home.” This is a truth that I have been discovering more every day during my time here in Peru. No matter what it is that I am missing, I have to remember that where I am, I am home because I am in the center of God’s will and He is with me every step of the way. It’s more than simply saying, “This world is not our home.” God has provided a home for us in our relationship with Him.
I would have to say that the most life-changing moment I have had so far happened today and it was very unexpected. Last night I was struggling with loneliness, and I woke up this morning feeling the same way I was feeling the night before. I pulled out my prayer journal and just started pouring out my heart to God, expressing in raw honesty the pain that I was feeling inside my heart. I told Him how I struggled to believe that He could meet certain needs and desires that I had. I didn’t really hear much from Him at that time because we just had a few moments together before we left for the beach. However, on the bus ride to the beach, a song came on my IPod, also by Dave Barnes, and also a love song. This song has been on repeat on my iPod, and I couldn’t exactly figure out why I loved it so much. However, in this half an hour, God sang this song to me over and over and He just poured His love into my heart. He told me how much He delights in me and how He desires to be with me every moment, just like a lover delights in and longs to be with His beloved. He told me of how much time He has waited to be together. One moment He said to my heart, “You don’t have to look any longer for someone who understands you. You don’t have to explain yourself to me. Let me show you who you are.” That phrase blew my mind. Then came an unexpected scene that played in my mind; a vision sent from my Love. I was standing in the ocean and waves were crashing all around me and on top of me. I was literally covered in His love all around me. Such joy and peace flooded my heart at the showing of this vision.
As we arrived into the bus station, God asked me, “Would it be ok if I just showed you how much I love you? If you only knew how very much I love you and delight in you, you would never feel alone again.”
I had no idea how absolutely perfect this vision would be in comparison to what actually happened today. After seeking out different beaches, we finally settled on a quaint strip with several homes right on the edge. The water was warm (for me at least) and soft. Within five minutes of making my way into the ocean, the waves started crashing all around me and over me and I felt the love of God like I never had. The vision God gave me had become a reality, and the moment was even more amazing than I thought it could be. I didn’t want to ever leave. The ocean foamed as the waves crashed, and I just floated and splashed in the bubbles. I was like a small child playing with her Daddy. Even now, just thinking about this moment, tears come to my eyes. I yelled out loud for my Daddy to hear, “God, you are so amazing!”
The embrace I so longed to have from someone who loved me happened as God’s waves covered me in love. The ways that I thought that God could not fulfill my heart, well, He proved me wrong. I don’t think water hugs that tight, but my Father’s arms were in the waves today. The words that I heard Him say to my heart were some of the most beautiful I had ever heard. I wouldn’t have written them for myself today. They were too profound and loving for what I thought of myself. However, I know my Daddy loves me. He is always showing me in different ways, and today He gave me an all-consuming hug.
I am looking forward to other amazing moments with Him in the days to come. Our trip is only beginning. What an amazing God He is! I just want to tell the world! And I will, every chance I get!