Mission Trip to my ‘Merica
It’s crazy to measure where I was one year ago or even six months ago to where I am now. In January of this year, I had a number of people ask me if I saw myself living in Swazi forever. At the time, there was no way. My answer was always, “Well, if something doesn’t change, I just can’t. I don’t know if I can last another year if it was like 2015.”
Well, something certainly changed.
Actually, many things changed, both big and small, dramatic or barely noticeable. Take for instance when the wheels fell off my car at the end of last year. (That was meant to be figurative, but actually…that did happen last year! It was just one wheel. Someone had tried steeling the wheel the previous night and we didn’t know, so all the lug nuts were gone and soon the wheel came off! TIA! Luckily, I had recognized something was majorly wrong and had slowed down, pulling towards the side of the road when it came off, so no one – nor the car—was injured.) But what I really meant was to that at the end of last year, our partner ministry in Swaziland decided they wanted to take over the girls’ home. Our partnering had not been going well for many reasons, so we mutually agreed to end the partnership; I thought we were taking the girls but they thought they were taking over the home. When it came down to it, I didn’t have a choice; I was in no position of authority to stop them. I had to move out. I had to surrender the driver’s seat, to surrender the dream, to surrender the girls. I was absolutely confused, crushed, worried, frustrated, exhausted, angry, etc. But it was a necessary event to remind me to get out of the driver’s seat and let the Lord drive. And, boy, did He drive! He took me to a series of changed scenery and renewed my heart and soul and vision. (And, as a ministry, we are in a much better place with a huge vision for the next ten years… aaaand as of June 1st, we are officially taking over the home!!!!)
It’s been a long and hard climb up the mountain, but this view is so worth it! My roommate asked me yesterday my long term plans for Swazi. My response? “I’ve never been happier here. During my retreat in December, the Lord reminded me that His Joy is my strength. Well, these first five months of 2016 have been full of joy. I can indeed live here forever!”
But now is not the time to plan forever. Now is the time to prepare to share this incredible life and the way God has moved mountains. Now is the time to water the dry soil from where I came. Now is the time to minister to the ones back home. Now is the time to sing and dance and shout, “I have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord! Come, and see for yourself!”
But that means it’s leaving time. Leaving time is very, very hard on the girls and Benji. And this time, it’s very hard on me. Benji, who doesn’t quite understand said tonight, with tears, “But I’m coming with you to the States!” After all, how can you say, “See ya later”s to those who only hear goodbyes. I never really understood why the girls have such a hard time with me leaving when they know I’m coming back. But then it struck me that they still haven’t learned to believe in my love, or believe in any love. They still don’t trust me. I learned this through a conversation with Ayanda the other day. I was a little frustrated in hearing this and I responded, “But I don’t get it. After all this time, after all I’ve done and how I’ve proved how much I love you all, you still don’t believe it?” She responded with wisdom beyond teaching that went like this: “It’s not that I don’t– or that we don’t– believe you. I know youlove me, Mama Kate. But it’s love that we don’t really believe in. We’ve grown up with no one telling us they love us. Except for boys when they want something. So, yes, you say you love me, you show me you love me, but I’m always afraid if I do something wrong you will stop. The love will end. Because it always has. You will leave or get tired of me. But the thing is, I know it’s crazy because in my heart I know you won’t stop loving me, but sometimes my mind just can’t trust it.” As I reflected, I realized what she was saying also made sense in the girls who keep me at arm’s length. Close enough to feel my love, but cold enough to not show affection or truthful emotions. Some of the girls don’t want me to get too close because they fear they’ll lose the only taste of love they’ve had. They’d rather have just a taste and keep their distance than risk getting close enough to have more in case it runs dry. But the unfortunate thing is that they aren’t understanding true love then. “God. Is. Love.” I’m only a leaky faucet, dripping a taste of love, but if they would seek the source of water himself, they would never have to doubt or fear being unloved again! Eloah, God’s Name which means, source of living water!
And that has been the biggest change this year. Not for the girls (yet), but for me. Realizing that I am loved beyond my wildest yearnings and far beyond my deservings has brought me back to the foot of the cross, where I can draw my unending strength, grace, freedom, and love. A spring of water that never runs out. I take time every Wednesday morning to wake up very early, go to mass, and kneel and pray and meet Christ at the cross. Where He reminds me every time with outstretched arms, “My way, Kate. My way.” And every week I give him back the driver’s seat that I somehow seem to take over far too often.
And now the Driver has turned into a pilot, and he’s taking me back to an oldly-new mission field: America. Oh America, my homeland, my beloved country, how much you need Jesus! So, while I leave one heart behind, I come to gain another for the next seven weeks. Oh yes, here I am, Lord; send me!