Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The strength to be weak

So what was meant to be a way and a means to cut down on my "epic" general e-mails has not been too successful. To be honest I have felt really intimidated to write in a blog....Like I have to write really well, or have profound thoughts or something. And so since the last time I posted (March 6th, I think) I have written nothing, neither an "epic" general e-mail nor one Blog entry. And so I sit with a full head, not knowing where to begin or what to say. But today I am determined to write something. Anything.....

This amazing woman I barely know, moved from Modesto to South Africa with her family as missionaries. Although we never had coffee or met up before she left, we have been e-mailing back and forth for the last 6 or so months that she has been there. We share our similar feelings and struggles with moving to new countries and cultures, each others countries and cultures. She writes a blog regularly. She writes beautifully, eloquently and humorously. I wait a few weeks to catch up on her blog so I have more to read. Sometimes I sit here at work and giggle while I read. Other times I cry, her words echoing the ache deep inside me. Usually, after reading her beautiful blogs, I feel less likely to write my own, I am not nearly as eloquent of a writer as she is . But today I was inspired after catching up on her blog to re-visit mine and write.

So...as I used to begin most of my e-mails...since I last wrote...:o)

Josh and I went with our churches high school group to Mexico over Easter.

Before I left for Mexico I had been seeing a counsellor and she had asked me, for homework, to write about 2 Corinthians 12:9

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness”.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may
rest upon me’

So this is a part of what I wrote for her immediately following the trip to Mexico....

The strength to be weak.

I decided last minute to go to Mexico. Josh really wanted to go. I wasn’t sure I could get off work and I was doing a Beth Moore bible Study the same night as Mexico training. Finally I decided to go. Initially I wanted to continue my bible study and just go and help where ever I was needed. There where 2 weeks that the bible study didn’t happen, so I went along to Mexico training. Turns out the lady that was leading the lunch and service team (Slunch) was ill those two evenings so I was asked to lead. On the surface I calmly agreed , “sure thing, yeah sure”. On the inside I was freaking out, I was a mess, “what the heck, I have absolutely no idea about Mexico or a lunch team…what’s a lunch team? And as for being a leader….I am NOT A LEADER!!” . One thing I have always been confident about is the fact that I am not a leader. However no matter how hard I tried to avoid leadership (in situations of youth groups or VBS or camps) I seem to somehow always land in the middle of it. I went home in tears those two evenings; I was overwhelmed and ‘not good enough’. After these events I decided I needed to prioritize and so I quit the bible study so that I could commit fully to Mexico. I also made peace with the fact that I was going to be stretched in Mexico. And stretched I was.

Upon arrival in Mexico I was handed a set of keys to drive the lunch team around if need be. “Drive in Mexico?...Me????”. Shortly after that I was informed that the lady leading the lunch team was ill and so by default I was the leader. Is anybody listening to me? I AM NOT A LEADER!!! So I shakily stepped up, completely overwhelmed. I tried to pray with the kids in my team as we faced making 1000 PBJ sandwiches (a day) together; I started crying. So I stopped my prayer mid sentence, hoping no one would notice and someone would pick up the prayer from me. Tammy (another adult leader and friend) wrapped her arm around me. Support. And away we went.

I was stretched like a piece of gum to the point where it is so thin it flops. Only I didn’t flop. Instead I learnt a great thing about my Lord. When God places you somewhere he doesn’t leave you there, He is there too. And there He was, supporting me, holding me up so I wouldn’t flop. He surrounded me with people encouraging, supporting and loving on me. I couldn’t have done it without them, without Him. I was weak in every way possible (except physical). I was weak in knowledge, never having gone to Mexico or been on the lunch team. I was clueless to how it worked and what was expected, I could have failed miserably. On top of that I was weak in the area of leadership, especially a group of teenagers (from America). I lacked confidence in myself in general.

I had 2 Corinthians 12:9 on my mind, and so I decided that each morning I HAD to start the day with God in order to get through without flopping. Each morning, somehow, I woke up (without an alarm) with plenty of time to spend with the Lord before Josh woke up, or rather before the “wake up music” was played.

God’s grace was abundant and sufficient. I was carried through each day with peace and patience. God showed up, especially in the people surrounding me. I experienced 2 Corinthians 12:9 for real in Mexico. Now the challenge is to experience and believe it in my “real” life. It’s a challenge, a process. I believe 2 Corinthians 12:9, I believe Gods power is perfected in my weakness, that his grace is sufficient, it’s ‘good enough’. I want to be changed by it, forever. Who I am, solid in who He is.

We made 1000 sandwiches a day, and then some. the sandwiches were given out by our VBS teams to the Children at their sites. On the last day I took my team (Yip I drove in Mexico, I followed someone there, but I drove) to one of the sites to hand out the sandwiches themselves. After spending three days straight doing nothing but making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I thought it would be awesome for my team to see the children they had made the lunches for. That day my heart broke. Even though I knew what we were doing was good, I couldn't help thinking that it wasn't enough.

We came home from Mexico changed, broken hearted, aware, full of fish taco's and much more stretchy. I pray these things I learnt, I saw, I felt, will be etched into my heart. That this experience has changed me forever and won't just get hidden under a pile of other experiences, but that the need out there will continue tugging at my heart until I am tugged into the place I am meant to be.

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