Well, we will be Coeur d’ Alene bound in one week! I can’t believe how fast these nine months have gone, but as I look back at all that time, it seems like forever ago that we were kneeling in the front yard praying for a safe journey to Burundi. So much has happened, and almost none of it was what we expected. We expected to be teaching at a primary school. We expected bucket showers once a week. We expected that Haylee, Ladd and I would be living together. We expected little to no western contact here or from home. We could not have been more surprised when we came here and found ourselves working with an evangelism department and conference center restaurant, living on the other side of the country from Haylee, getting hot showers a few times a week, and having an incredible expat community as well as mostly unlimited access to emails and phone calls from loved one’s at home! God has been so good to us!
However, in as many ways that we were pleasantly surprised and blessed, there have been some culture-shocking moments here as well. There really was no way to anticipate what we were going into culturally when we were coming from one of the world’s richest countries to the world’s poorest one. Waking up daily to starving children outside our gate, being on constant guard against thieves, hearing occasional gun shots in the night, fighting off parasites and sickness from strange food, hearing about the most recent terrorist threat, feeling like an outsider and foreigner and battling home sickness and the consistent stress of never being able to let our guards down fully, all of these things taught us, exhausted us, and matured us.
Through all the changes and problems and surprises and blessings, God has been faithful. I think the overwhelming truth that God has taught me this year, although simple, has been that His love never changes despite all the changes that are around me. His love for me doesn’t change whether I am succeeding at some incredibly fruitful ministry, or if I am in a season of sitting and listening at His feet with no “results” to show him or other people. His love doesn’t change if I fail at times of action or times of rest. His love doesn’t change whether I am witnessing someone being blessed and well fed or someone being starved and left alone. His love doesn’t change even though my environment, friends, culture, marriage, personality, health, freedoms, understanding, outlook and language change. His love stays the same. The fact that there is nothing I can do to change His love for me, that there is no horrible thing that I can see that makes His love less trustworthy, and that there is no place where I can go where I do not find a symphony of His love for His creation, makes me stand in awe of God as a Father in a whole new way. He loves me. The Creator of the universe loves me unconditionally. And He loves you unconditionally. Even when we see things that make us doubt if He is a loving God, we can be reminded that God is love by definition! Anything He does is love. He has nothing but love to give. I always knew this intellectually. But being here, I understand that on an all new level. God is love. That is amazing!
So as we pack up and get ready to board that plane in 7 days, 3 hours and 34 minutes to come home and we are off to our next adventure and planning for our return in August, the following song is not running continuously in my mind:
It’s time to sing your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me singing when the evening comes. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, Oh my soul, worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, Oh my soul, I worship Your holy name.You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger.
Your name is great and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, Oh my soul, worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, Oh my soul, I worship Your holy name.
And on that day, when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.
~Ten Thousand Reasons by Matt Redman