The countdown is totally on. We have less than two months before we pack our bags and are on our way out of Ambato forever. Today I feel like a walking zombie, trying to cope and still be productive with my life. I can’t get it out of my mind and heart how thankful I am that God placed me on the Ambato missionary team. We all definitely have our faults, but I deeply love every person that I live and work with. They are AMAZING people. Our journey has been long, difficult, and complicated. We have all cried in front of each other multiple times, walked each other through storms, (and sometimes caused some storms ourselves), and invested in each other. We prefer each other, and we would fight for each other against anyone that might come against any one of us. Maybe we wouldn’t have picked each other out of a crowd to be friends with, but God brought us together and we will always have a solid bond.
About a week and a half ago, I was in a lot of pain and trying to make it through until after worship time at youth service. I struggled through the songs, and my teammate CJ went home with me. We sat in the dark together on the couch, stared at the tree, and cried. Well, I cried at least. She knew that was what I needed: to be with someone but not necessarily communicating. There was no pressure to say or be anything other than how I was in that moment. Experiences like that only come with someone who really knows you, and with those people there is peace.
And then there’s living in a house with 12 people (or a sometimes rotating number of people) plus the pastors’ family who is here a lot. Trusting people is not an easy thing for me at all. I can be a pretty difficult heart to win. However, it’s amazing to me to see how I’ve been able to let so many of these crazy people into my heart. I’m going to miss a little four-year-old girl screaming and jumping all over me with hugs. I’m going to miss walking into the kitchen to find our three Ecuadorians with their guitar singing worship songs completely off-key. I’m going to miss games of Nertz with Brandon and CJ and not being ashamed at all to just scream at the top of my lungs (because everyone else is doing it too). Then there’s the constant yelling each other’s names from all corners of our four-story house. Random scream fests. I’m going to miss going to the little store down the street with David before youth service, pulling in the chairs from the sidewalk, and talking while watching whatever old movie the store owners are watching. I’m going to miss being able to plop down on the couch next to whoever is home and know that I am automatically a part of things (or at least think I am). I’m going to miss cooking for several people, knowing that generally someone is there to eat with me (usually Brandon and/or Mark). And then there’s the late night talks with Nancy. Our close relationship definitely did not come easily, but rather through the fire. However, through it all, I thank God for this girl with whom I can share anything and everything and she can with me too. We’ve sacrificed for each other and loved each other through some really dark times. And everyone on our team is absolutely crazy. Last night we recorded a team “Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas)” and it was the most psychotic experience…like all other team activities. I have probably watched the video 20 times today, trying to imagine how I could possibly leave these people less than two months from now. I just want to take in every moment, but run away and cry at the same time. Blech.
Then there are our disciples and leaders in the church. We have watched them walk through a process from the world to Jesus, and every one of them is at a different point in the journey. Will they all be ready to be left on their own? Probably not all of them entirely, but we gave all we had and now we leave them in God’s hands. This past Sunday morning I took part in a children’s Christmas program that was directed by the leaders. We 40/40s only had minor roles in dramas while the leaders took charge of the schedule and the program. It is a heartwarming thing to watch. Maybe it’s the stage I am in right now, but I know without a doubt that it is about time for us to step out. My heart is drawing the line.
I’m going to miss moments like this past Sunday in worship. We played “God of This City” for the first time as a band, and as we sang about the greater things that are yet to come and be done in this city, I looked out over the crowd to see nearly everyone lost in genuine worship of the King. At the end of the song we sang, “Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in Ambato.” I know this is true because this is God’s story, and He’s just getting started.
And just as there are greater things yet to come for Ambato, there are greater things yet to come in each of our lives as well, and just as a chapter is ending, a new one is beginning. I am ready for and excited about what is next, but that doesn’t change the fact that I will miss some really cool moments we have had, especially moments that I have had with my team. I am just so thankful for this experience, not only because of the amazing people I have been privileged to share life with these past two years and four months, but also for the ways that God has completely revolutionized my life. He took a girl that was so broken emotionally, and healed and cleaned her up all over on the inside. I am leaving South America an entirely different person than when I came.
I have had the coolest life ever. Ever since I let God direct my paths, it has been a wild, wild ride, and I have seen His faithfulness every step of the way. Because of that, I can walk forward into the future knowing that He won’t ever let me go.