Well, the summer is officially over. It seems like yesterday I was just gearing up for all our missions trips, student camps, church events, and little vacation get-a-ways this past May.
In the blink of an eye, two months pass and here we are – August 1st.
As I sit with a really beautiful heat rash on my legs (more on that later hehe), I cannot help but look back through the whirlwind of this summer and sit in awe of all that God has done.
I say this a lot… God can do anything. Last year, God really began to show me what that looked like, and I feel like I have left this summer with a greater understanding of those four words. STILL feeling like I have only scratched the surface of the weight of those words.
Can I share with you the stories of what God did this summer? This is going to be a three part blog – woo! – never done this before but these stories are too long and too good to leave anything out. 🙂
Our first stop was Costa Rica! Ah, what a beautiful country it is. Everything there is so rich in color and flavor. For someone who considers themselves a creative – this was my kinda place. You cannot help but leave there inspired and in awe of creation.
We had a team of 30 – our largest missions team yet! – going to building an elderly couple a brand new house, do school assemblies, church services, and food distributions. We had a packed week, and I was ready for whatever God had in store for us. Or at least I thought I was ready…
I can limit God. Not on purpose, I would say it’s because I am a human and don’t know anything. But I can tend to forget that even in the mundane, everyday life God is moving and breathing and singing over us. He wants to “wow” us even in the every day, we just need to be looking for it.
Our construction team was the ALL-STAR team. I don’t think there could have been a better team of harder working men than those guys. They would get up before the sun and would not come back to sleep until well after the sun was well down. They worked through lunch and refused to do anything less than excellent. I loved that about them.
The couple we were building the house for was an elderly couple we called Mamaw and Papaw. 1. Because we couldn’t pronounce their names and 2. They acted a lot like my grandparents, whom I affectionately call Mamaw and Papaw. They lived in a shack held up by 4 rusted metal sheets, with a tarp roof, and a dirt floor, with their widowed son and his 3-year-old son.
That is not even the worst part. Where their house was located was on the side of a huge hill where you had to walk on a tiny tiny ledge to get to their house, while you climbed over piles of trash. At the age of Mamaw and Papaw, it was not safe for them OR for the 3-year-old grandson… one slip, and you tumbled down the side of the hill.
So, this Costa Rican woman decided that she would donate land to this family so that they could have a new house. Now keep this in mind, this other woman didn’t live in a much better house than what our family was currently living in. She didn’t have much, but she gave what she had. I know God is blessing her big time.
So we build and build and build and build for the week. Everyday Mamaw and Papaw would come out to the construction site and just talk and talk in Spanish to me like I knew what they were saying. I literally fell in love with them. I would sit with them for hours at a time and just listen to Papaw talk my face off, and just nod and laugh when he laughed and say “si” in there every once in a while. Basically left Costa Rica determined to learn Spanish. Ha! They were filled with so much joy over this house.
Our Costa Rican Papaw would play his harmonica every day for the men while they build his home. He didn’t have much, but he had something to give. He gave us his time. To me, that is what is most precious.
Fast-forward to the end of the week, we saw HUNDREDS of young people accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior through school assemblies and food distributions. The Holy Spirit was living and active in every person on our team and did something so special and significant in our hearts. People didn’t come to know Jesus through cramming the Bible down their throats – we shared our testimonies. Our stories mean something in the Kingdom of God, and that is what lead people to Him. Because if He can save me, He can save you. He showed up and everything changed.
It’s now time to hand the “keys” over to Mamaw and Papaw for their new house!! We were all so excited and nervous at the same time. Would they love it?! Would they be proud of it?! Was this enough?! Questions started to fill my mind…
And then something happened…
They gathered all of us around and began to share that they have been following Jesus for over 40 years. For 40 years, they would pray and ask God to show them that He has not forsaken them. See, their life hasn’t been easy. They have suffered great loss and have lived in great poverty all of their lives. Their greatest need wasn’t a new car or more money… it was a home that didn’t leak and a floor that didn’t turn to mud when it rained. Papaw said they would pray daily and faithfully give tithes and offering with what little they had and never once “forgot” to give it back to the local church. So 40 years of prayer and they’ve seen nothing… until that day when they got the house. Papaw said that his 40 years of prayers are being answered through us coming and building this refuge for them. Forty years… never gave up… never got mad… never questioned God.
He said that he would have walked through his life all over again, just for this moment. And then as a “thank you” to us, they sang a worship song. Oh, how God smiled that day. There was not a dry eye there. Tears of thankfulness that we were able to be apart of this and tears of conviction. Conviction because I pray and ask God for something for a week and then I start to doubt if God really loves me. God is working with me on my patience. Ha!
How ridiculous is that!? Forty years this man and woman stayed the path. What a testimony of their life! I walked away from that moment repenting for my wayward heart when I don’t get what I want from God.
I was reminded that my relationship with God is not what I can get from God, but what can I do for Him and His Kingdom. Cause it really isn’t about me in the first place. It’s true, the Bible says “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2), and believe me… this girl has no problem asking. But what about the times when God doesn’t give me what I ask for? Just like my Costa Rican Papaw – I stay the path. God not answering my prayer instantly (like I would want – BLESS MY HEART) is not a form of rejection. God’s timing is perfect. Always. It’s either a “not right now” or “I have something so much better for you”. It’s a win-win situation. I am 100% preaching to the choir about that.
As we flew home, my hearts cry turned from God I WANT this, this, and this or why haven’t you brought me this, this, and this – to God, what can I do for you? How can I serve you better like my Costa Rican Mamaw and Papaw? Because my faith and trust and dependency on God isn’t determined by how much tangible stuff He has blessed me with (though I am SO thankful for all that God has blessed me with), it’s all the things in the secret place He has done for me that mean SO much more!!
I have faith, trust, and dependency on God because He has healed my heart when it was broken and beyond repair (so I thought).
I have faith, trust, and dependency on God because He has placed dreams in my heart that seemed so impossible and made them possible.
I have faith, trust, and dependency on God because He set me free and has made me whole when I thought I was too far off from living in freedom.
SO… all that to say… I left Costa Rica with a deep thankfulness that God is so patient with me and my impatientness (is that even a word?), and that God hears every cry of our heart, and 40 years is worth the wait when God is in it. He can do anything.
Never the same.