Everything will change. A Ministry of WorldVenture.
My first year (and hopefully not the only year) in Cote d'Ivoire is coming near it's end as I've been here for ten months now. So I felt like it was time for one of those long "so what have I learned" type blogs.
So what have I learned? So many things, but for one: I am WEAK. I never expected that. I'm not sure what I expected, maybe something closer to some sort of mountain-top missionary experience and to always be happy and everything would be so easy. I tried not to have expectations but I think subconsciously I couldn't help but think that way.
I didn't think not being able to express myself well in French would make me feel so isolated. I didn't know I'd have to be so dependent. I didn't think it'd be so hard being so different. There were days when I thought I might hit the next person who stared at me or called me "toubabou". I didn't know how long it would take for Ivorians to really feel comfortable with me.
But by the grace of God all this has changed so much. Now I can speak French better, I’m able to be more independent but at the same time have accepted being dependent, I'm more okay with being different, and have made friends! But I had to go through the process of being broken down first in order for it to happen. And all these things that have been accomplished weren’t done so by any power of my own whatsoever. So often I'm reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
"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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
When things don't work out the way I want them too or I want something to just be easier, I always have to remind myself that His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness.
This whole experience also reminds me of a song by Reveal, who played at Hume one of the summers I went as a counselor. "Whatever it takes, God show me Your ways... I won't make the mistake of living like I'm my own...Take me, break me, mold me, make me into something new." Yep that sums it up pretty good.
Thank you Lord for changing me so that I can live for You completely and for showing me how weak I am!
I've also gotten a much clearer picture of what missions is all about. It's not at all what we think before actually experiencing it. Yes, it's about working for God and helping the nationals in whatever way you can. And it's also about walking for two hours with your youth group. It's about cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, and sweeping with your mom and sister. It's about letting loose and dancing with a group of girls, singing "Hallelujah, by the blood of Jesus, I'm saved!" It's about visiting people just to say hi. It's about telling your neighbors that the sorcerer in the neighborhood sacred forest doesn't scare you because you believe in Jesus. It’s about sitting with friends, chatting, and eating a pile of mangoes together.
The other night I was having a conversation with my host parents about our program Benkadi/Journey Corps. We were talking about how great it is that it has brought together Americans, Germans, French, and Ivorians. Then my host mom said, "There are two things that can bring everyone in the world together: soccer and Christ."