Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Welcome to South Asia!

To give a quick synopsis:

Yes, jet lag is real.
Yes, there are people everywhere.
Yes, there are at least 10 different smells every 5 steps.
Yes, the honking is constant.
Yes, the heat hits you like a brick wall when you walk outside.
Yes, the people stare (especially the men).
Yes, dogs run everywhere and cows roam free.
Yes, it is dirty and poor.
Yes, it is rich and modern.

Overall, I love it. I love being away from America. Stepping into the city, it felt almost familiar to me. I was immediately excited to be HERE. I personally have had little culture shock or hardships adjusting (besides jet lag haha), for which I am very thankful!

A few praises:
-       We arrived safely, with no trouble getting in country
-       My team has been blessed with beautiful unity of heart and purpose so far
-       One girl had a dangerous allergic reaction, but was saved by her epi-pen and a sketch hospital
-       We have all been assimilating very well, getting more and more excited each day to dive into m-work!

But the trip has not come without its difficulties even so far…

I began to encounter my own trials on the plane ride in country. On our last flight I started having severe gastrointestinal pain (an intense ripping sensation throughout my intestines). It was so bad I could barely breathe, think, talk, sit, walk, or sleep. And, unfortunately, I had no medicine to try to subside the pain. It was hard.

However, I had just read some words from Elizabeth Elliot in her book, The Path of Loneliness, which I would like to share. [She was speaking on taking your gift of suffering and turning it into an offering to the Lord]

“To make that gift an offering may be the most costly thing one can do, for it means the laying down of a cherished dream of what one wanted to be, and the acceptance of what one did not want to be. … [Suffering] is a gift God has given me to give back to Him in order that he may make something of it.” …

Each one must order his life according to the gift the Lord has granted him.” (1 Cor. 7:17)

and finally, “I will offer… the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” (Ps. 116:17)

One of our themes for this summer is laying down our rights and living as sacrifices. Before this trip I was really struck by 2 Cor. 6, “…as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

From the time this trip began, I had had ample opportunities to lay down comfort that I innately desire and accept deep pain as an offering to the Lord.  (I have so many thoughts on each of these passages, but I do not have the time to go into it, nor do I think I would… it would take about 4x the length, and this post is already long! But if you would like to ask about what something means or what I meant, do not hesitate to reach out.)

This also came to my mind…
“Praise be to our God and Father who graciously gives us all things.” I can’t think of the reference right now, or even if that’s how it’s really worded, but I know this idea is in the Text somewhere. 
I was meditating on this yesterday morning, and this is what I wrote:

“Graciously gives us all things” – as in sufferings. He gives us these with grace. He knows we are but dust; weak-willed. He does not give with hard expectation and demands, but with abounding grace and love. Will you accept His favorable blessings but not His grace? And how else do you get to accept grace but that to suffer experiences in that demand His grace? In this way, it truly is a gift. He gives us all things, but He does so graciously. Sometimes the gift seems less gracious, but is perhaps more so a gift OF grace.”

On the plane – after changing my attitude from being a victim of pain, one who is unfortunately hurting, my entire experience changed. I felt comforted, loved, accompanied in an intimate way. I felt safe even though I had no idea if the pain would stop or really why it was hurting that terribly. I felt a deeper purpose to my pain, and I felt honored in that moment to bring to the Lord my gift of suffering. I felt joy and thanksgiving. I felt happy that I had something to bring to my sweet Lord, knowing that He knew, understood, was thankful, and was already working all things out for my good.

So, I am laying down my rights to myself again and learning how to offer everything I have as a gift to the Lord, even my sufferings.  What I am continually learning is 1. How to trust God and 2. How loved I am by Him.

Again, I have so many, many thoughts and things I’m learning, but I’ll start with this. J

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