Intimidated, Inspired, Nervous, Hopeful
My parents and brother are here visiting me in Indonesia (yay) and for the first three days of my vacation, my parents were in Abepura with me – seeing my town and P3W, meeting my host mom, friends and co-workers and eating papeda. After spending some time there, we headed to Bali to meet Nathan and spend a few relaxing days in the sun, swimming, reading, walking, playing frisbee and watching movies.
While we were in the airport waiting for our flight to Bali, three white women, who we guessed were in their late 70’s or so, walked into the waiting room. After awhile, one of them walked past us, stopped and asked what brought us to Jayapura. I explained that I’m volunteering for a year with the local church, and that my parents were visiting for a week. She was the cutest woman, with a sweet smile and just a very sincere way about her. She explained that she was heading back to the US from the interior of the island, where she had attended an anniversary celebration of translating the gospel into the first local language in that region. She told us that she and her husband had moved there – one of the most remote parts of the world – as missionaries in 1961. In 1968, her husband was killed by a neighboring tribe while out on an expedition.
If it had been me in a similar position, I can pretty much guarantee you I’d go running home to my mom and dad. But she stayed – until 1987. As she told her story, she just couldn’t stop smiling, talking about the important work she and her fellow missionaries were doing in that region, and she just kept saying again and again how important it was, and what a joy it was, to share the good news with the people she had lived among there.
What struck me about this woman in our short conversation was the sense of assurance she had about her calling to continue serving God in the highlands. I wonder if she felt that assurance while she was there. I’m sure she must have, seeing as how she stayed there for so long in the midst of the challenges she faced along the way. It was really beautiful to see the ways God worked through her throughout her life. At the anniversary celebration, she met men who she’d known as young children who grew up to become pastors and community leaders. The village head made a public apology to her for the death of her husband by the hands of their people, and cried and hugged her in the middle of the ceremony.
I’d been feeling pulled in many different directions since I arrived in Indonesia. At times, I’ve wanted to stay on longer than just this year, but at other times, it feels like I should go back to the US in July, as planned. All through the month of February, I wasn’t really feeling pulled clearly in either direction, and finally I had to make a decision. I have decided to come back to the US. I am really, really hoping it is the right decision. There’s so much to be done here that it often feels overwhelming; how can I just leave when I feel like I’m just getting started? But I think that God must have something in store for me in the US, and that He will continue His good work in me. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
I love hearing stories of different people’s life work, but sometimes I just feel intimidated by the work other people are doing, and I wonder, how could I ever live up to their example? I’ll be honest, there are a lot of things I want in life (ranging from M&Ms to raising a family) and I’d like to think I could give up my own hopes and dreams to follow God’s calling, but can I really do that? At other times, like when I was talking to this woman last week, I find inspiration in other people’s stories and their dedication to following God’s call.
We all predicted that I would change throughout the course of this year. I’d say that the most significant way that I’ve changed this year, amazingly, has been to give up my plans for the future. I would still like to work with either urban or international development, of course, and travel and someday go to grad school, but I see my future as a much less rigid path than I did before, and while it’s hard to think about leaving my current assignment and go home not knowing what I’ll be doing there, I just have to trust that God has something planned for me. And the best part is, no matter how creative I consider myself to be, I could never come up with as great a future for myself as God already has in store.
A verse that I love is this: “In your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” Psalm 139:16.
And so, a little intimidated, but also inspired, pretty nervous but still hopeful, I’m going to keep seeking His will, growing in trust and looking forward to see what the future holds.