As we prepared to board the flight I looked around at the place that had stolen my heart and I wondered how I could possibly ever leave. I have been in several different countries but never felt this deep rooted connection before. It was a strange and overwhelming feeling for me. One that my fragile emotions struggled to contain. How in just 6 days did the Lord impress such a deep love for a place so far from home? It is so unlike me not to want to rush back to 28607 and squeeze the necks of my family. I missed them very much, but the pit in my stomach revealed that I could easily stay. In this zip code Jesus was speaking loudly to me and moving in mighty ways. I felt I was betraying the very people He called me to serve by sitting in seat 20C and returning home. The work He had for me was not finished... God, how can I leave? Yet, I buckled my seatbelt in 20C and watched the plane lift off the runway. I couldn't bring my eyes to look back at the precious place so deeply rooted in my spirit. The day after we returned home I could not speak about the trip without weeping. Even now, I am fighting the lump in my throat. Our team prayed that it would be NOTHING but GOD that moved and HE MOVED. He moved in me more than a blogpost could ever express. Yet, I want to share a story with you. I story that has changed me forever. God, may I never be the same.
It was Wednesday morning and I sat quiet before the Lord praying and He led me to 2 Samuel 9, the story of Mephibosheth. It is my favorite (well tied with Hannah in 1 Samuel 1) of the Old Testament. In so many countries across the world the disabled are treated like dead dogs; rejected, abandoned and considered a curse. Sometimes I fight feeling this way in my own world. My heart was shattered and my emotions were raw because I saw myself in them. Yet, watching their caregivers and the staff love them was such a gift from Jesus. I prayed to love them as Jesus does. To speak truth and welcome them to the table of grace, mercy, love and hope. My God welcomed me, a broken girl who felt like nothing more than a dead dog. God, lead me to do the same.
We arrived and each of my fellow team members immediately began serving with the hands and feet of Jesus. Watching them pour out their lives was humbling and life changing for me. No discomfort, no fear, no judgment; just the love of Jesus oozing from each of them. We were ready to welcome them to the table. My heart was drawn to a young man whom I will call David*. He was staring at the wall and rocking back and forth. The Lord led me to go sit next to him. At first I was intimidated by his lack of engagement. I heard the light sounds of music in the background and I began to sing hymns. I have absolutely no gift for music but I felt the Lord leading me to sing over him. He was probably cringing at the noise on the inside. David* looked over at me and placed his forehead against mine. He would pull back and then place his forehead against mine again. We repeated this over and over again. Each time our eyes would lock and I knew Jesus was in the room and meeting with him and I. He grabbed my jaw, the jaw broken from my disability and restored through surgery. The scarred jaw and held it. The one that symbolized the breaking of my body and the restoring of my heart, restoration only Jesus brings. I began to pray over him, kiss his sweet face and speak all the scriptures I could bring to mind. Oh how I wish I had memorized more.
The Spirit of the Living God rose up in me and began to intercede through my tears. I made a large request of the Lord. I prayed that God would place my mansion beside David's. I desire so much to sit with him in glory. I prayed that one day we would walk the streets of gold together, hand in hand, no more disability, brokenness, tears or pain. I whispered in his ear that one day "we will be in paradise with no more tears, crying and pain. You will share with me all that God said to you in your dreams and in your mind because I know my God speaks to you in a special way! We will walk the streets of gold together, hand in hand, whole and at peace. Although we were once cast off, we will be welcomed." I asked Jesus to give me a glimpse of that day. To show me that my God hears my prayers and He will answer. Not long after, we walked down the steps to visit the other children and adults in the building. My little broken legs wobbled under the weight David placed on me. Yet, I kept moving. David* turned me to the patio area. As we began walking down the patio path he removed his arm that was linked with mine. He grabbed my hand and intertwined his fingers with mine. I stared down at our hands and my eyes filled with tears. Then we walked hand in hand down the path. I heard the voice of the Lord say in my spirit, "This is the glimpse of the things to come." As quickly as we had linked hands he removed his and we began to walk as before. It was a brief moment of eternal impact. In the midst of my sorrow over our brokenness my God reminded me that this life is a vapor and David* will meet me in paradise, where all is made right. Oh the joy that is to come!
It was a trip that taught me again and again to pray BIG, to be sensitive to the voice of my Savior, to love the orphan and the broken. To see with the eyes of Jesus and to serve with His hands. It was a trip I will never be able to express in words and one that I pray I take again and again. God, send me back!
Today and the days ahead I will miss the rolling mountains, volcanoes, language barriers, patio walks, prayers in Spanish and even the constant rain. My heart will dwell on the relationships that will last for eternity and the God connections that He brought. My eyes will fill with tears when I remember the faces and the words. God has changed me, radically. I will never be the same. Never. My heart is torn between two zip codes and two loves. However, He has given me a glimpse of the glory to come. He has welcomed a dead dog like me and I rejoice that one day soon He will take me back over the waters to the place that broke and healed my heart. I yearn to walk the patio, paint wooden crates and eat tamales with the girls that stole my heart. Until then I will feast on the God stories that fill the pages of my journal.
Go friends, go serve, go love, go minister to the Nations! They are waiting for the good news.
For more information about where we served and the incredible missionaries serving there please visit: http://missionarytim.com