Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We are going where?


In 2001, I traveled to China with a group from my church.  That trip changed my life if so many ways!  It was the first time that I had traveled outside of the United States.  It opened my eyes to the world and gave me a better understanding of what life was like outside of the United States.  I have traveled to other places since China, and I'm always reminded of how "comfortable" I live.  How much I take for granted....and how much I appreciate when I get home.  Oh, how I love American toilets.  Oh, how I appreciate having forks and knives.  What a privilege it is to be able to attend a house of worship with no fear.  I'm blessed to own a personal copy of God's Word.  I can read it, walk around with it, and write sticky notes with scripture on my desk at work.  We have so many freedoms and comforts that we take for granted. 

The two weeks we were in China changed my life.  I remember falling in love with the culture and the people.  Such beautiful people we met on that trip!  But there was a great heaviness I felt as well.  Such a need for the people to know the Heavenly Father and to have the hope of the Gospel.  This trip sealed the call on my heart for full time missions.  I just knew that God would call me back there to serve!

When I returned home, I jumped on the opportunity to go back to China.  I spent months applying to the mission board, and felt an amazing peace that this was where God wanted me!  It was all so very exciting.  I had gone all the way...applications, references, paperwork, interviews...... 

And then the Lord said "wait".  
Wait?  No, Lord, I'm pretty sure this is where you want me to be.  

Those words began a struggle that lasted for many years.  I was so confused and couldn't understand why He would have brought me this far...and then ask me to wait.  It has taken a lot of time, but He has helped me accept His answer.  I didn't really understand why He said "wait", but I finally came to a place where I could accept that answer.  When we had the chance to go on our first mission trip to Mexico, I felt like he was finally saying "Yes!".  In fact, the first year we traveled to Mexico, I pulled out the journal where I had recorded my trip to China.  I figured I would journal my trip to Mexico as a continuation of where the Lord was taking me.  As I sat on the plane for Mexico, I realized that it had been exactly 10 years TO THE DAY that I had sat on the plane heading to China. How neat is that?  

But never.  Never, did I expect to go back to China.  That door had closed....
So I thought.

The last couple of weeks, I have been reflecting on my first trip to China.  I think it's quite amazing that He would call us to adopt a child from this same place.  There are things I purchased on my trip (scrolls with art and Chinese lettering, jade figurines, etc) that I have displayed in my home from time to time.  Some things I began to tuck away for safe keeping, but I couldn't bring myself to depart with them.  As this new journey unfolds, I have been pulling items out to look at them again.  How the memories of that time come back!  I look back at pictures from the trip and remember the faces of the people I fell in love with.  You wonder where they are now, and what their life is like.  Do they know the Lord?  I pray for them.

The lyrics from Hillsong United "Oceans" has spoken to our hearts as we have began to pursue the China program.
Funny....those words reflected the prayers I had so many years ago as I thought about going to China to tell people about the Lord.  I was willing to allow the Lord to lead me wherever He wanted me to go...even if it was across the world.  My trust had to be without borders, and I knew He would make me stronger in my faith.  I believed being on mission would be THE place where my faith would be made stronger.
I see now, my faith has been made stronger as we have walked through infertility.  As we have waited and longed to welcome a child into our family.  And as He has called us to go to China to bring our child home.  My faith seems to be challenged even more with that last statement...even more than what my heart was challenged with in 2001...
Lord, you are taking me deeper than my feet could ever wander....and there were times I felt like I would drown.
But now, I know that my faith has been made stronger

"And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now"

Lord, thank you for the events and opportunities in my life that have made me uncomfortable.  In the darkness and painful times, it has taught me how deep your grace can be.

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