One year ago- December 14, 2009- I was living in the same house, working at the same school, married to the same man, driving the same car, and even using the same cell phone. On the surface, nothing has changed...nothing at all...except maybe that my hair is longer and I have gained a few pounds.
The changes are imperceptible, except to those who know me well. They are all internal changes: to the mind, to the heart, and to the soul. God used a simple little book to first open my mind to the horrors of civil war in a faraway land called Sudan. However, He didn't stop with me simply knowing about the Sudanese and the Lost Boys; He made me feel it...the urge, the insatiable need to go. Once I went, He didn't stop with me just experiencing and loving ministry in the Third World; He used it to transform me...to rearrange my priorities and infect me with a need to serve. He didn't stop with bringing me home safely and even rearranging all of my plans for next summer; He led us to our beautiful, kind, amazing refugee family...He dug an entirely new well in my soul and filled it with curiosity, love, and compassion for the Karen and Karenni people of Burma.
I lie in bed each night thinking not of the dreamy Canon 50mm 'L' lens that I once coveted, not of how great a balcony cabin would be on the cruise to Alaska I was once planning, but instead of children's laughter as I fumbled a soccer ball around a dirt field in the middle of Sudan, of the sound of a Nuer hymn as it was lifted up to our Lord and Savior by men who have experienced true need, of basic teaching strategies that would be most useful to teachers with no supplies and likely no real classrooms, of our refugee family and what immediate needs I can meet, of whether or not missionaries are allowed into Burma...
It isn't just that I went to Sudan, met a bunch of amazing people who live in mud huts, ate rice and beans, and came home. That would have been a complete waste of my time, money, and struggles. Of course, I still would have gotten some amazing pictures and treasured some great memories, but that's not what the trip was about...it was about crazy love. It was about understanding the depths of God's grace, love, and power. It was about understanding a slice more of the world in which I live. It was about turning off the television, getting off the couch, and doing something outside of my own little world. It was about reaching out to people in my own community who need a friend. It was about accepting God's plan for my life, throwing up my hands, and being willing to go wherever He leads me. It was about realizing that I had a choice: to come home and return to life as usual, or to see the world in which I live as countless opportunities to serve people with a Christ-like attitude.
I chose the latter.