January and February are, for the average Midwesterner, long, cold months. But this year, I experienced one of my most treasured adventures with the Lord during these months.
Six weeks in a new country with a family I barely knew might sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but that could not be further from the truth in this case.
I loved every minute of this trip.
A month and a half later I am still reminiscing about all the Lord taught me and in awe of how attentive He is to our prayers.
PRAY THE UNLIKELY PRAYERS
In January 2021, I got alone with the LORD to pray for the new year. I spent a solid 36 hours by myself. No phone, no people, just me, my journal, the Word, and some solace with my Father. I had just finished grad school, a major accomplishment. But I didn’t know what was next. What prayers should I even pray?
So I just started writing. I penned a few ideas that I thought, just maybe, God could use somehow. I asked the Lord to direct so that any hopes and dreams on the page would align with the story He wanted to write.
One of the sweetest gifts the Lord has given me is this: I’ve been able to see firsthand how He works in different countries and cultures. Missions will always be near and dear to my heart, as are missionaries. I asked the Lord if there would be a way He could use the heart for missions He gave me along with the gift of singleness. Maybe there would be a way I could go and encourage and live life with a few of them somehow, someway.
This wasn’t a prayer I prayed often, but from time to time, the idea would come to mind. A year and a half later, God opened a bigger door than I imagined. I got to spend time with missionaries, and my dad and I even got to do this trip together. How cool is that?
LIFE IS BETTER TOGETHER
Before I made my journey to Sol de la Molina (the name of the neighborhood), my normal everyday consisted of working in my home by myself. Yes, sometimes I worked at coffee shops, but for the most part, I worked diligently in my quiet, home office. I was a tad nervous as to how well I could work in a house full of people (and two giant dogs). Would I fall behind?
The opposite turned out to be true.
From quick chats while I made my coffee to family lunches to jogs after work, good conversations threaded the entire day. They weren’t distractions but connectors, a constant reminder that life was not all about me or my responsibilities.
Yes, God calls us to be faithful in the jobs He gives us, but without seeing it, I had made my job too central. A little bit of my identity started to get wrapped up in how well I could do in my work and what feedback I received from managers and clients – all thoughts that focused on myself.
However, in Lima, I became an adopted big sister, daughter, and dear friend. We did life together in a way that brought joy and encouragement that I still struggle to put into words. We helped each other, whether it was making a meal or trying to figure out how to write an essay on math, we jumped in to help. We served together, we laughed together, we prayed together, and we stayed up late watching movies together. Without even realizing it, work became less stressful and burdensome, even with the extra responsibilities I received at that time.
SAYING YES IS SCARY BUT WORTH IT
One of my prayers was that I would jump in wherever needed in my six weeks. The reality was, I didn’t have a clue what that would be like.
A few days into the trip, I was asked if I could do some teaching for the young adult women’s study. I said yes, then immediately this fearful thought: “I just said yes to something I’ve never done. What am I thinking!?”
Teaching is a joy, and I’ve been able to share in various capacities over the years, but never like this—completely in Spanish. How was this going to go?
I knew the Spirit wanted me to say yes, but that didn’t take the nerves away. I often thought of one of my favorite Elisabeth Elliot quotes, “Sometimes the fear does not subside and you must do it afraid.”
And that fear kept me coming back to the Lord. I didn’t know exactly how to say what I wanted, I didn’t remember how to conjugate all the verbs correctly, and the list went on. But God. God wanted me to trust Him and take the next step.
And can I tell you teaching was one of my highlights! I still got nervous every time, but I loved sharing the truth from the Word, and God gave me the grace for that day. Obedience often isn’t glamorous but in the eyes of the Lord, our obedience is always beautiful. It’s an outward demonstration that we trust Him and want to walk in His ways, even when we can’t see exactly what’s going on.
GOD DOESN’T NEED ME BUT WANTS TO USE ME
Did God need me to go to Peru? No. But He wanted me to. He wanted to use me.
Years ago I read John Piper’s poem on Job, and there is this line that replays often in my mind: “God is kind in ways that will not fit my mind.”
God is the creator of the world, the Sovereign One who holds time in His hand. And, He knows My name. He’s given me experiences that He alone orchestrated. And He wants to keep using me, just like He wants to use you.
God gave me a childhood in South America, an opportunity to learn Spanish at a young age, an enjoyment in living in different cultures, an excitement to travel, and a sweet season of singleness, just to name a few things. He did all of that. No one has pursued me like the Lord. No one knows my life and heart like the Lord, including my own sinful, selfish heart. And yet He still loves me because that is who He is.
I hope we never move on from being in awe of who He is and what He’s done. And I pray others may see His beauty and character as we walk in obedience in any opportunity He puts before us.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.