I am a smiling on the outside, world turned upside down on the inside wreck. And I mean that in the best possible way. As I sit here in my longsleeves curled up under a blanket, I think back to just a week ago when I was leaving La Source, sun blazing, sweat pouring, and covered in dirt.
As I stepped on the boat, I was already missing Pootchy, already missing the 3 children on each arm as I walked through the village, already missing the "LaLa, LaLa dance!" (which I usually willingly did, because any cultural barrier is broken when the white girl from Georgia willingly makes a fool of herself bustin a move). But I'm used to goodbyes. In fact, I've gotten pretty dang good at them over the years. It's not that I don't miss people, I've just gotten used to the "see ya laters" and the weight of knowing that might be the last time you see that person, with the hope that it's not. So what the heck was wrong with me? Why was it so hard this time?
I walked to the front of the boat and just sat there, alone for the first time in a while. Was it the afternoon-long conversation that I had to have with Pootchy's mom, about honesty and gifts vs expectation, and about what this godmother/godson relationship looks like in relation to the long-term goal of the ministry? Was it the way Pootchy wept in my arms as we waited for the boat, or the way he said how much he loved me and would pray for me? Was there unfinished business of ministry that we were supposed to be doing that week and somehow missed? The playground was complete, and had been dedicated to the village. The children's Christmas party went well. The women's knitting ministry bought more dishcloths than ever before, and even the mission house projects were a success. Commitments to the Lord were made from a few team members and the gospel was shared with the village. Relationships were continuing between us and the village. Relationships among team members were good. Really, really good. And as I thought about all of those things, I couldn't help but wonder why I was a wreck. But I pushed it to the side, got up, and enjoyed the boat ride back to the mainland. Just think about it later. Well, later came 2 days later in baggage claim (ironic) and I was about to lose it.
Talking to myself (per usual), I kept saying, "Lauren, you've done this like 7 times. You should be used to this by now. Your left your family to go work at an orphanage for 5 months with people you hadn't met before, and that didn't phase you. Get it together."
As we walked toward the airport exit, I knew that I was leaving some people that I loved dearly, and others that I had just gotten to know in an incredible way through serving together, and was headed back to Bham. And for some reason it just hit me hard. And knowing logically that this is where God has me for the right now and wanting to actually be there are 2 very different things. It's not that I'm not thankful for Fellows, because I am. I am so, so thankful for where God has me and the friendships that I have. For the ministry opportunities here and for the growth that's happening in my life. But going back from a trip like that without anyone to share your inside jokes with, or without people who know exactly what you're talking about, or who don't know how to brainstorm toward future ministry in the village because they don't have a reference point isn't easy. Leaving a place where your family seems to work together seamlessly and heading back to the realities of life is just hard sometimes.
But even more than that, I think, was the voice of the Lord pointing out sin in my life. Little things that he showed me throughout the week. Things that make you feel like the straight up sinner that you are. As I wrestled with those things, I was reminded of CS Lewis' wise words:
"It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us, it is the very sign of his presence."
And so, for right now, it's ok with me that I'm a little bit of a wreck. I visited Maison (the orphanage that I interned at last spring) a day before the rest of the team came in to Haiti. One boy, Wilson, that I love dearly, was getting to go home with his adoptive family the next day. He looked at me and said, "Miss Lauren, I feel happy and sad at the same time. Wilson gets it. At 9 years old, he gets me.
And so I say all of that to say, yes it IS worth it. Serving the Lord, where he calls, is worth feeling wrecked. For those of you who went to La Source with me, remember that it is worth your obedience. I don't think that any of us can say that we are exactly who we were before we went. He worked in us as much as he is working in that village. And if you're reading this and didn't go, then GO. To La Source, to the projects, to your neighbor, to your sister, to work, just go. He has called you, and he who calls is faithful. He will wreck you. He will reveal your sin. He will give you incredible friendships. It will not be the easiest thing you have ever done. But I'd rather be wrecked and have my heart broken for what breaks his and sometimes get sad about missing people than sit around and never have experienced the opportunities he has given me.
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior"