Tonight is one of those nights where literally all I want to do is cry. I know what you’re thinking: what a girly thing to say. Yep.
Today we ended our contract as 40/40 missionaries with Extreme. Today is the day we have been counting down to for the past two and a half years; the day we have both been dreading and looking forward to. This is the day that I thought I knew what to expect. Sort of. Actually, not really. However, whatever I thought it would be, today was just plain weird.
What did I do today? I spent the day in Quito at the hospital peeing in a cup, talking to a doctor about my foot problems, and picking up prescription meds. Then I rode in the backseat of a private taxi trying to breathe in the heat, and distracting myself with the sweet voice of Evan Craft while squashed between two big sweaty men. When I got home, I quickly took a shower and helped Nancy zip a suitcase closed that has WAY too much inside. That thing is going to explode in the middle of the night and cause us both permanent psychological trauma, I am positive. Tonight, while everyone else was busy with their respective people, I went to the mall food court and stared out the window.
Then it hit me: the mall was the first place we came to when we arrived in Ambato. Looking around the food court, I could remember it like it was yesterday…all the emotions I felt as I looked at all the fast food restaurants. I was excited. Everything was new and fresh; the possibilities were endless! God had brought us here in this moment in time for a reason; He was going to do powerful things through us.
About two years later I am in the same mall and I am overwhelmed. In many ways these past two years were exactly what we expected; in others nothing like we expected. We knew that God would plant a church here, that we would raise up passionate and capable leaders, that we would be changed, and that we would end our contract on this date. That all happened. However, we didn’t expect to go through some of the painful things we faced. Sounds like life, right? Sometimes life makes you want to say, “I didn’t sign up for this!” However, the truth is that when we say, “Yes” to God, we are saying, “Come what may, I will be faithful.” Well, what may come, came, and we survived. Now because of it, we are stronger and more prepared for what God might throw at us next.
I think that I have changed in many ways. I used to live in and for the future – of what could be. When I arrived in Ambato, there was no “this moment”; there was only “the next moment”. I didn’t know how to treasure the present because I was busy planning the next 5-10 years of my life. However, these past two years have completely transformed the way I see life. In these past two years, I have lived so many BEAUTIFUL moments that even just the thought of them sends tears streaming down my face. I have both loved and been loved more deeply than I can remember in my entire life. I have experienced fulfillment more than I ever have. I have grown closer to the heart of God than I ever thought possible. I have lived with and grown immensely close to the absolute most amazing people I have ever known – the best there are. I have had the opportunity to disciple men and women who are literally going to change the course of history. Forget about the future and all that will happen tomorrow and next week, next month, and next year. In this moment I am struggling to believe that this could ever have happened; but it did. In this moment, I am struggling to imagine ever walking away. In this moment I just wish that dang suitcase would explode so that Nancy might never leave and that we could just continue to spend every night giggling and laughing and crying together (not necessarily in that order). Why must things come to an end? It is in these moments when I wonder how changes like this could ever be natural; how they could ever be ok.
Then I remember that life is full of moments – rich and full of grace. Did I enjoy to the full all the ice cream dates and house scream fests? Did I enjoy the laughter and the games and the victories? Did I grow all that I could through the challenges and handle each difficulty the best I knew how, leaning on God’s wisdom and listening for His voice? I can say with 100% certainty – YES – that I lived every moment of this contract to the full – the best I could with what I knew at the time. Was it perfect? No. Was I perfect? Not at all. However what it all was – every experience, every relationship, every opportunity – was grace. And it was amazing. I wouldn’t take any of it back; not one single moment.
Grace brought me here to Ambato for this moment in time. Grace called me to be these people’s leader for this moment in time. Grace called me to know these amazing missionaries for this moment in time. I relish in this moment and I treasure this moment because it is beautiful.
You know what else is beautiful? Today – this super weird day – this day that our contract ended – I was sitting in the hospital, drinking a massive cup of hot chocolate while I poured out my heart to God. In an instant – literally a flash of a moment in time – He reached out and calmed my fears about the future and gave me a hunger for His presence. He assured me that as He has been with me through all these moments in Ambato, that He will be with me in all the moments in the future. He won’t let me go. A few hours later, I arrived home and opened my IPad to see a message from my mom that someone had donated several pieces of furniture for my apartment in Idaho. In case there was any doubt, God’s got this. He’s got all of this. I don’t have to worry about a bit of it because He’s got this. So I’m free; I’m free to be in this moment with Him, thanking Him, loving Him and loving those around me who have become such an important part of my life.
So right now, even though my heart is breaking, it is full. In this moment I am at peace. In this moment I choose to rest in Him and thank Him – thank Him OH SO MUCH – for the most incredible two and a half years I could ever imagine experiencing. It has been the greatest adventure that God could have invited me into for this moment in my life. How precious is this moment. Thank You, Lord. Thank You.