All I wanted to do was turn around and run back to the two amazing men standing there waiting to see me off. Going through that security checkpoint would mean I was truly leaving the Philippines. Turning around I looked back at my two faithful cheerleaders, protectors and guides. These amazing evangelists had been with me the whole 6 weeks looking out for me even to the point of delivering me to the airport with only about three hours of sleep, which was all my fault by the way. All I wanted to do was run back and tell them I wasn’t leaving that I wanted to go back to Arapal. They didn’t let me give into my weakness though and with a reassuring smile and wave from them I turned around and choking back tears resolutely marched through the first security checkpoint on a long journey home.
I had heard from friends that had done long term mission work that the hardest part is leaving the people you have become so close too. I believed them and I knew it would be hard, but I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to leave. After all it was only six weeks right? Well I was most definitely wrong! Six short weeks in Arapal and the people there became such a permeant important part of my heart and that will never change. To say I didn’t cope all that well with leaving is an understatement. It was really hard to leave there. I felt like there was still work for me to do.
If I had went on my own terms it probably would have been easier. What I mean by that is if I hadn’t gotten so involved with the people and the daily life of living in the Philippines it would have been easier to leave. I could have removed myself from the situations that knit my heart to theirs, but I didn’t want to. Months before I left home I started praying that God would use me in the Philippines in whatever capacity that meant. I wanted to be all in, ready to work hard, teach if needed, listen and make Christian friendships to last a lifetime. This all involved being ready for any situation God might throw my way. Praying and preparing before hand made my mind and heart ready to be all in when it came to serving.
When you ask the Lord to use you He will! This mission trip was such an amazing example to me of when I give my life completely into the Lords controls how he can use me. It was amazing how many opportunities came up that I had never thought of. I got to use my skills from college and just life to help with the business at the resort and farming operation, I was able to assist in teaching lots of VBS’s even when it wasn’t planned; I loved on babies and street children, washed dishes and stayed up many a late night talking and encouraging my Christian brothers and sisters.
One of the things I had to realize was that God’s work can continue in the Philippines or wherever without me! Thinking I have to be in the Philippines is actually prideful. God is much bigger then me(Psalms 147:4-6) and can accomplish his goals and his plans without me. I don’t have to be there! Gods has got this and has a way better visual on whats going on then little old me. He has the hairs on my head and everyone I care so deeply about all numbered(Matthew 10:29-31) This actually gave me a great peace about leaving. I am definitely still praying all the time for people and events that are happening over there, but I am learning that as much as I care for the church over there God loves them 100x more then I can even fathom.
Even though leaving the Philippines was one of the hardest things I have ever done I know the Lord has a plan. It was definitely a hard adjustment coming home. I wasn’t really sure where I fit and what God’s plan was for me. I still don’t have it all figured out. That’s the beauty of the Lord directing my life, I don’t have to figure it all out I just have to trust him enough to write my story. I pray that Gods plan for me leads me back to the Philippines, but if it doesn’t, I know God is going to bring something bigger and brighter into my life where I can use my talents to work for Him. The same is true for you. It doesn’t matter what your doing wether it be mission work, school, working, raising a family all of the above God can use little, old, tired you if you will just allow yourself to be used!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11