Uncategorized

I needed to be saved (Happy Liver Day!)

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I needed to be saved before I ever knew it.

Today marks 25 years with my new-to-me liver. Twenty-five! Medical professionals still exclaim “Wow!” when they are reminded of that. This life post-transplant is all I’ve ever known, but the magnitude of 25 years definitely hit me this October. Thankful, thankful to have made it to the 25-year mark with an organ that wasn’t originally mine to begin with.

Twenty-five years ago today, doctors wheeled tiny 2-year-old me into the operating room to give me a liver transplant. I remember nothing of that day or that general time period of my life, but from what my parents and other relatives have told me, it was a scary, stressful period of life, not knowing if I’d make it to my 3rd or 4th birthday. Also, my poor parents: My sister Amanda was only a few weeks old at the time of my diagnosis, so they had to balance and care for a very sick 2-year-old AND a newborn. Super parents.

Recently I realized: I needed to be saved before I ever knew it. Since I was two when diagnosed with tyrosinemia, I had no say over my medical treatment; it was all in the hands of my parents and doctors. I wasn’t able to make those life-saving decisions for myself.

I owe my second chance at life in them, in large part.

When thinking about all of that, I realized there’s a really cool parallel between that and my relationship with God.

I needed to be saved before I ever knew it.

God knew, well before I was born, that I needed a Savior. Someone who would see my sins, even the tiniest “white lie,” and be willing to take all of that, to die for my sins and everyone else’s, to rise from the dead, to defeat death once and for all.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

I needed to be saved before I ever knew it, twice. Twice I was giving a new chance at this beautiful, crazy, bursting life that I’m blessed enough to live. And I don’t want to waste it ever, for a single second.

PS – If you’re not already a registered organ donor on your driver’s license, find out how to become on here. It’s important!

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Daily Life

This season

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Today feels like fall in Wisconsin. It’s barely in the 60s (Fahrenheit, for all my non-U.S. friends who may be reading this), which means I’m chilly and already crabby that summer will be officially over shortly. The kids are back in school soon or already are, which means all my teacher family and friends have crazy schedules again, and I’m terribly selfish and don’t like sharing them and their attention.

Summer is a season; it comes in a glorious burst with highs (vacations! sitting outside in shorts and t-shirts! festivals!) and lows (see above paragraph) and “meh” days, and before you know it, the calendar says September and the season is over.

While I’ve been enjoying summer, I’ve also been in the midst of a very different season for the past two or so months. This season has maybe been the most raw, beautiful, difficult, beautifully-in-over-my-head of my entire life.

This season has had days where I feel like my soul was parched and dry, wilting within me, and then there have been days where I feel I could burst from thankfulness and joy.

I don’t remember the last time I was this exposed, digging into issues with God that I didn’t even realize had been things bubbling up inside my heart all this time. It’s taken 27 years, but I feel as though I’m finally digging into who He wants me to be in Him and who He’s created me to be. It’s been a really rich time of discovering myself, flaws and all.

It all started while I was on my mission trip to Costa Rica. I could feel Him stirring up something, something new, in my soul. What that “something” is I don’t fully know yet, though. I just have little glimpses of it for now.

So I ended the trip on this high, ready to follow God in whatever, the great unknown. I was ready to shed everything holding me back and just do it. Watch out world, I was comin’ for ya.

And then, I re-entered my “normal life.”

It’s no secret (at least not to my immediate family) that I do not handle re-entry into the U.S. well after a mission trip. I’m basically as ungraceful about it as I could possibly be–and by that I mean I’m often incredibly self-centered and don’t extend the grace to my family and others the way I should.

After about a week or so of wallowing in self-pity (it was not pretty), I finally realized: I don’t like this. I came face-to-face with all the ugliness inside of me that was threatening to choke out all my joy and gratitude for my life in the States. I had a very distinct moment where I saw that I had one of two choices to make: strive after God and seek what He was trying to show me through all of my ups and downs, or I could turn and walk away from basically everything, particularly my relationship with Him.

I had to decide to fight for my relationship with Jesus. Whatever it took (and takes), I didn’t want to waste any time by NOT following and striving to grow in Him.

I had to and have to surrender.

I had to and have to learn to be faithful in what He’s given me now (Luke 16:10).

I had to and have to be willing to tackle the good and bad in my life.

I had to and have to spend time with Him daily.

I had to and have to open myself up and ask for accountability.

One of the most incredible things from this season of my life has been seeing who He’s divinely arranged for me to encounter. On top of the existing important, special people in my life, He’s brought in teammates from Costa Rica, people from my church, a friend from college whom I hadn’t seen in years, a friend I regrettably didn’t spend much time with when I was living in Texas, etc., to show me that He cares. He loves me so much to bless me with all these incredible people who daily send me encouraging texts, pray for me and keep me going when I just want to cry.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned (and still am learning) from this season, it’s this:

He is so faithful. SO FAITHFUL. 

It’s so easy to take that fact for granted when things are normal and fine. Sometimes you (or at least I) need up to be down and down to become up to realize and fully appreciate His steadfastness. He’s never wavered in His love for me. I see His goodness continually in my life, and it would be crazy to take all the “random happenings” in my life and call them coincidences.

Because whether this season lasts for a long time or ends tomorrow, whether He reveals to me what this stirring is soon or far in the distance, He is still good.

And seasons may come and go, but He always remains the same.

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Costa Rica, Dedication, Mission trip

Lucrecia’s story

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Me with Lucrecia (in the red shirt), her son (in the yellow shirt), her daughter-in-law (holding the baby) and Paty, my wonderful translator/amiga

Last week I encountered one of the most God-filled, humbling, incredible experiences of my life. Lest I forget any of the details as time goes on, I had to write it all down now.

This is the story of Lucrecia.

To start at the very beginning, I woke up around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, and couldn’t fall back asleep for awhile. I know whenever it takes awhile to sleep, especially on mission trips, that it’s a sign that God wants me to pray. So I started praying — praying for my teammates, for the people we’d encounter later that day — and suddenly I knew I needed to pray for someone I’d encounter that day, someone who was suffering from some deep heartache. I knew it was God’s voice inside of me. I kept picturing a face with tears streaming down it. To some this may sound like some crazy talk, but I knew distinctly it was the voice of God talking to me, so I started praying for this unknown, weeping person.

Wednesday morning “officially” rolled around eventually and we headed out to the church my sub-team was based out of for the week. In the morning I had a previously scheduled Bible study at the home of a woman who had accepted Christ as her Savior the day before. Around lunch time, I thought about my 3:30 a.m. experience and wondered a bit about it, almost wondering if I had made the whole thing up. I hadn’t told anyone about it yet.

After lunch we talked to Pastor José Luis and all came to the agreement that we would go to visit homes down on a stretch of road we had not yet visited. So Paty (my wonderful, dear translator/sister now), Manuel (the local church member I was teamed up with all week) and I went to visit a home that was two homes down from the church.

Manuel called out “Upe!” (the traditional greeting in Costa Rica they call out from a gate or fence since almost all Costa Rican houses are protected by a gate and/or fence, so marching up to a door and knocking is rarely an option), and we were eventually greeted by a young man, probably in his late teens or early 20s. He invited us into the back of their family home, which was a tin-covered area with a dirt floor, a wood-burning stove and a very beat-up couch. There were some boots caked in mud in a corner; a few bags of rice sat by the stove. There was little besides that. He invited us to sit down and called for his wife, who was finishing laundry in a small shack a few yards away, with their young baby on her hip.

Eventually we started talking to the young man, but before long Lucrecia came out. She politely greeted us and sat down. Manuel introduced all of us. She started to share her story almost immediately and soon after the tears started to flow. She was talking so fast and crying so much that when I looked to Paty for translation and guidance, she wisely said, “I’ll catch you up later.” So we listened (I just prayed the entire time since tears are tears in any language) to Lucrecia tell her story. I later found out it was a story full of hardship, illnesses that had plagued one of her sons in particular, and the death of her husband 6 months ago. She had lived a very difficult, painful life.

During a pause, Paty turned to me and said, “Tell your story.” So I looked into Lucrecia’s sorrowful eyes and told her my story — how I grew up in the church setting and was knew a lot about Jesus at a young age; how I could see and tell there was a difference in the way my parents lived and a sense of peace and joy that was different from the way many other adults seemed to be. I explained to her how I heard someone talk about heaven one day, about how it was a perfect place free of sin and sadness, so I went home and asked my mom how I could go there. I shared how my mom had explained to me that we’re all sinners, even as young kids because we disobey and lie and steal, and sin separates us from God and His perfection and holiness. Because of that, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to live a perfect, blameless life, take our sins on the cross and forgive them. He was buried but rose again after three days, which means we don’t have to fear death or the grave anymore. He has conquered it all. My mom asked if I understood, and I remember saying “yes.” I was only 6 or 7 years old, but I vividly remember realizing I needed forgiveness, just like everyone else. So my mom helped me pray and ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins, that I believed He died for me and rose again, and that I wanted Him to be my Savior. And now I have peace; I have peace that no matter what happens in this life, because my eternity is secure in Him. I don’t lose sleep at night or fear death because I know my name is written in the Book of Life.

After I finished telling my story, Manuel shared with Lucrecia a little card that e3 uses for evangelism because it perfectly shows the story of Jesus and how we all have a choice to make: accept His free gift of salvation or turn away and reject it.

By this time, two more sons of Lucrecia’s had joined us and heard what we were sharing. Lucrecia said she wanted to pray, and the rest of the family members echoed her statement. Paty lead them in a prayer asking Jesus to be the Lord of their lives, and it was honestly one of the most beautiful moments I had ever been a part of.

After the “amen,” I noticed Lucrecia was crying again, just releasing everything she had been holding for so long. I went over and hugged her, and she grabbed me back. It was an embrace unlike anything else I’ve ever felt before. I could tell that this was a release of years and years of fear and frustration and sadness. She held onto me and sobbed into my shoulder for awhile and I held her back while Paty prayed over us. It was a glorious, cleansing moment.

Once we let go of each other, she went and hugged each of her children, holding onto the son with the health issues for the longest. Most of them were emotional, too, and I realized we were watching a family be transformed before our eyes.

Eventually we told them about the Bible study that would be happening in a few hours at the church two doors down, along with a reading glasses clinic. We said goodbye and headed back to the church.

I was overwhelmed. THAT was who I had been praying for at 3:30 a.m. God had been moving long before we had ever showed up.

The evening rolled around and the Bible study started. I was playing outside with some of the kids who had accompanied their parents when one of my teammates came and said, “Molly, I think your lady is here.” I ran into the church, and there she was, with a smile on her face.

After a quick wave to her, I started running the eyeglass clinic with another teammate (which, by the way, the eyeglass clinic is a pretty incredible thing to be a part of — the look on some of the people’s faces when they realize they can read their watch or their Bible again, sometimes for the first time in years, is absolutely humbling.). We were winding down when Lucrecia came in. We were figuring out the best pair of glasses for her when she started talking to Patti, my North American teammate/now sister and friend, who also happens to be bilingual.

Patti started translating what Lucrecia was telling her, and I was astonished. Lucrecia said she had woken up that morning and had been crying out to God. Then, when she was taking a nap in the early afternoon, she said she had awoken by what felt like a hand touching her side and a voice said, “Somebody is here to see you. Get up.” And that was when she came out and find myself, Paty and Manuel in the back part of her home.

I still can’t think about or type that part up without being absolutely overwhelmed, speechless and awestruck by God’s goodness. He works far beyond what we can comprehend or understand, but He allowed me, graciously, to be a part of a truly transforming, God-filled moment in Lucrecia’s home.

The photo at the top of this entry is from the Thursday night celebration service, where all six churches that our sub-teams partnered with for the week arranged for buses to bring people from the area who wanted to attend. I just about lost it when I saw Lucrecia, her son and daughter-in-law sitting in the service. Afterwards we shared another wonderful hug and exchanged words. I told her I’d never forgot them and would be praying for them.

My heart’s cry, and one I would appreciate you joining me in, is that Lucrecia and her family continue to follow Him. That they get involved in the church that is very close to their home, attend Bible studies, lean on other believers during their difficult days, etc. Please be praying for all of them.

Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Below: Lucrecia practicing with Pastor José Luis, when we went back the following day, how to share the evangelism card with others. 

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Costa Rica, Mission trip

I left my heart in Costa Rica, again (and maybe you should, too)

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Today is Monday. Monday is always the hardest day to realize you’re here, in America, and not in Costa Rica. Because a week ago today, we were all jumping off our giant bus whenever they yelled out, “Team 2! This is your stop!” A week ago today is when we began working in the community, with members from the local churches, to reach out, visit homes, and share the Good News of Jesus’ love and salvation. And a week ago today is when we all officially started to leave pieces of our hearts in Katira and Upala, Costa Rica.

I had already left a huge part of my heart in Katira last year, and God graciously, graciously allowed me to go back this year and give even more of it away. I saw it in the eyes of my fellow North American team members, too — they would never be the same. They were experiencing what I experienced last year: the slow realization that you’re never going to be completely comfortable again, and it’s OK and wonderful because you can’t imagine not feeling this way, as hard as it is some days.

When I signed up for my mission trip to Costa Rica last year, I had NO IDEA what God was going to do. I had no idea I would show up and be more humbled by my time with the translators and the people than I could have ever imagined. I could have never anticipated how God ended up moving, powerfully, to bring souls in the community to Him. I knew the second they dropped me off at the airport last year that He was calling me back. I’m so thankful for that call, so humbled.

He’s given me a passion, a love, a desire to reach the people of Costa Rica, and now I can’t imagine my life without that call. I love the Ticos, I love them so much. I love that God has called me to partner with them and minister to them.

On the way to Costa Rica this time I started reading a book called Kisses from Katie, an incredible book about an American girl who lives in Uganda, caring for the people and sharing Jesus, as well as being the adoptive mother of 14 girls there. I underlined this quote because it rings so true:

“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”

If we’ve put our faith in Jesus, we’re called to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), called to be the hands and feet to people around us, no matter what. So if you live in America, you’re called to do that to the people around you; if you live in Costa Rica, you’re called to do that there, too. This is something I pray I am better and am bold at doing now. But some of us are called to get out of our comfort zone even more, to go to a new country, to trust that He has a bigger plan for us than we have for ourselves.

Because here’s the thing: I don’t want to keep doing this alone. Of course, yes, there’s the selfish part of me that wants more people to come so I don’t feel so isolated once I’m back home, but there’s much more than that. I want people — loved ones, friends — to embrace and follow a call God may be putting on their lives. To give up their comfort zones, to give up a week of vacation, to follow Him into the unknown. This trip had people as young as 14 and as old as young-at-heart, with different stories, different backgrounds, different medical struggles…AND GOD USED ALL OF THEM.

If you’ve felt that tugging while reading my posts, my Facebook statuses, please don’t ignore it! I’m here to answer questions and put you in touch with the right people, too. That is my prayer, what God put on my heart at the end of this past trip. This isn’t about Molly-goes-on-a-trip-once-a-year-yay-for-her! This is about all of us. What is God calling us to do? I don’t want to go back alone next year; I want to be there to support and see others follow the Great Commission.

There will be more stories I’ll share from Costa Rica in the coming days, but this is what God wants to share first. Feel free to reach out to me anytime!

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Dedication

Happy 24th anniversary, liver!

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Twenty-four years ago today, a sick little girl got a second chance at life early.

This little girl’s parents had been told a few months prior that she had a genetic disease that was slowly destroying her liver. She had probably two years max to live without a transplant (and she was only 2 at the time of this news).

Then the call came a few months later. A little boy had died in an accident and his family had decided to give the ultimate gift, the gift of life via his organs.

When the doctors took the little girl’s liver out, they informed her parents after that the timeline had been actually shorter than they had originally thought. It had been more like a few months without a transplant instead of a few years. In other words, a miracle that the liver arrived when it did.

That little girl was me.

Today is my 24th liver anniversary, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

Every year on this date I try to find a way to tell my story, to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation. Please, if you’ve never looked into organ donation or have passed on signing that spot on your driver’s license, please please please hop over to the Donate Life America website for a few minutes to read stories similar to mine, get FAQ’s answered, or find out how else you can spread awareness.

But I also share my story because it’s a testament to God’s goodness. Twenty-four relatively healthy years with a transplanted liver is a big deal.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told by doctors “Wow, you’re way healthier than you should be” or something to that effect (which, by the way, is a weird thing to say to a 12-year-old or 16-year-old, but I digress). I used to kind of blow them off and think “Whatever” about it, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize how much God has blessed me every day, every year of barely remembering that I’m a transplant patient.

A few months post-transplant. I was on a lot of medicine, including steroids, at that point, but now (praise God!) I only take one immunosuppressant daily.

I’m on the left, a few months post-transplant. I was on a lot of medicine, including steroids, at that point, but now (praise God!) I only take one immunosuppressant daily.

My parents did a phenomenal job when I was growing up of not treating me differently because of the transplant (except for the occasional ER runs to get a shot whenever we found out I had been exposed to chicken pox). They reminded me to take my medicine every day, but that was about it as far as special treatment. I honestly, after all these years, still have reminders go off every 12 hours on my phone so I take my medicine–otherwise I forget because life is just that normal for me. I’ll remember my transplant generally only when I see those reminders or when I see the scar that stretches nearly all the way across my stomach (though it’s much more faded now).
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I went through a period in my teens where I was upset about the transplant. Upset that I was different in even the slightest way because, yes, I’ll always have to take medicine every day and I’ll always have to be vigilant to make sure I avoid contact with certain sick people (example: If you have shingles, please tell me!). I was also upset because I was trying to figure out the “Why?” Why would God allow this to happen to me, especially at such a young age? Why do I have to live my life with medicine every day to keep my body from rejecting my new liver? Why?But then one day I stumbled across Jeremiah 29:11 and it became a verse I cling to for some reasons other than just the transplant, but at times especially because of it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

To prosper me and not to harm me. To give me a hope and a future.

Some of you may be thinking “Huh?” right now on why this makes sense as answers to the questions above.

But I have a hope, in Him and in Him alone. I have a hope because He gifted me a second chance at life twice. The first was when He died on the cross for my sins and the sins of everyone and gave me the opportunity to ask Him to be my Lord and Savior, which is why I now have a peace about this current life and eternity. The second was when He allowed me to receive a new liver.

I have a future because I live life more to the fullest now than maybe I would have without a transplant. When I’m reminded at doctor visits that I should be sicker, that I have a higher risk of cancer down the road, or that my kidneys could be issues in the future because the meds that keep me alive now, you learn to never take anything for granted, even if living this way is all I’ve ever known.

All that to say, I still don’t know 100 percent why I was the 1 in 100,000 who have the genetic disease I had. I might never fully know that answer this side of eternity. But what I do know is that I am thankful for it and I intend to not waste it. And it all starts by giving the glory back to Him.

So, happy 24 years, liver! I’m glad we’ve stuck together this long. Let’s never, ever break up, OK?

PS, I would love nothing more than for this blog post to be passed around and shared on my liver anniversary. So please, spread the word, share the link! The more awareness, the better. If you help share the word, you can even consider it my liver anniversary, Christmas and birthday present to me all rolled up in one. 😉

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Uncategorized

The #1 thing I learned in Costa Rica…

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It’s been two weeks. Two weeks since I first stepped foot in Costa Rica for what possibly was the best week of my life.

It’s been one week. One week since I said my final goodbyes and boarded a plane back to America.

People have been so incredibly sweet in the past week, asking how my trip was, how was the weather, what did I eat, etc. I love talking about it, probably almost too much. 😉

But there’s a question that always semi-stumps me, making me go through the week all over again.

“What was the number one thing you got from the trip?”

It’s an almost impossible question to answer. God taught me SO MUCH. I experienced SO MUCH. God let me learn SO MUCH. Trying to narrow it down…

There are a lot of answers, but one answer comes to mind because of much it attests to the greatness of God.

God used me, in spite of me. 

If you had asked me before the trip what my biggest weaknesses were, I would have two answers that would’ve come to mind pretty quickly:

I’m not a good communicator, and I’m very bad at connecting emotionally to people at times.

I’m a writer by nature. I journal, I blog here, I write long-winded Facebook statuses. It’s how I feel most comfortable and best at expressing myself. I typically feel like I’m not very good at small talk, and striking up conversations with strangers is rather terrifying.

I also view myself as someone who struggles with reacting in emotional situations. When someone starts to cry, I typically freeze. I blame it on the German in me, but that’s probably just a cop-out.

God used my two biggest struggles and insecurities in Costa Rica. He used them in spite of me.

When we set off for the first day of going into the communities with our churches, I wasn’t scared, but I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a mission trip in nine years. Also, I knew ahead of time that my first two trips were very different–I had never been 1) on my own for a trip without a group from my church with me and 2) one-on-one with a translator, forcing me to not hide so much behind others and to actually HAVE CONVERSATIONS. I was used to sharing a translator with four or five other Americans, which often meant that we would take turns and I would often never be pushed fully out of my comfort zone.

But there I was, walking up to the first house with my wonderful translator and Costa Rican church member. And God removed all that fear, self doubt and worry from my mind. I sat down, shared my story about how I know Jesus and how He’s changed my life, talked with the woman about her life, then helped her pray to ask Christ to be her Lord and Savior.

No fear, no shakiness, nothing but pure joy. Because of Him. It was all because of Him.

Later on in the week, during a Bible study at the home of a woman who had just accepted Christ the day before and had asked us to come back the following day, I noticed the tears welling in her eyes. There was so much pain there. But I decided initially to just continue, not realizing what God was doing in that moment. I asked a Costa Rican church member with us to share her testimony, and the tears continue to build as she listened to the other woman talk.

I didn’t know what to do next, but I felt God urging me to not avoid the situation, not hide from whatever emotions were clearly coming forth here. I couldn’t ignore His prompting anymore.

“Are you OK?” I asked her via my translator, Stip.

What came next just broke my heart. Through the tears, she shared her story. It was a story full of real hurt, abandonment and lots of insecurities. She had been through so, so much, and hardly anyone was there for her.

“I just feel so alone,” she said, over and over.

I fought back tears, as I knew God was working in that moment and I was unafraid to be caught up in the emotions.

We prayed over her, showed her verses in the Bible to let her know that she is never alone now that she has Jesus in her life, prayed more, and I ended our time with her with a hug. I’m typically not much a hugger, but in those moments that we had our arms around each other, not speaking the same language, I was overwhelmed by the love I had for this woman I had only met 24 hours before, my new sister in Christ, and the unending love that God has for both of us.

We smiled at each other as I turned to walk out her door. Her eyes had held pain and hurt when we walked in, but I saw happiness and relief now.

God used me in spite of myself on this trip. I pray He will continue to in the future.

He gets all the glory for this, plain and simple. I am only honored and humbled that He chose to use me, and I forever will be.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21

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Mission trip, Soul-bearing

Pura vida con Cristo

I’ve been trying to think of how to start this blog post for about a day now. Should I start off with a story? A photo? My biggest takeaway from the trip? It’s almost impossible to boil down my experience in Costa Rica to a single memory, moment or photo.

But I should probably back up to the beginning first.

When people were asking me “Are you so excited?!” in the weeks leading up to the trip, I would usually smile and say “Yeah!” But inside, I honestly didn’t know. I was constantly fluctuating between being really excited and being scared. I didn’t know what to expect, obviously, and the fact that my last mission trip had been nine years ago was really weighing on me, too. A lot in life changes between the ages of 17 and 26, and I honestly had doubts about how 26-year-old me would respond to all that a week on a mission trip brings. I was really struggling with just giving all of those fears over to God.

I was praying the entire way to Costa Rica “God, just please take this fear away and replace it with Your joy.” And boy, did He ever answer that prayer.

I experienced joy, in the purest, truest, beautiful form over the past week of my life. I was humbled that God chose to use me and honored to see how He worked through other people. I’ve never been around a group of people, both Americans and Costa Ricans, who showed such love without any boundaries or hesitations. Just honest, God-filled love.

A verse that I feel sums up the events of the week well would be 1 Corinthians 2:9: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

If you had told me a week and a half ago that I would experience God the way I did in Costa Rica–see Him actually start to heal broken hearts before my very eyes, to see Him move in people’s lives, to see Him bring over 140 people to His saving grace–I would’ve believed it because He can do anything, but experiencing it in person is something I’ll never be able to fully express in words.

One thing I definitely was not expecting heading into the trip was the personal impact the translators and the local church members would have in my life. The very first day, within an hour or two of officially getting to meet and know them, my translator, Stip, and local church member, Yeudy, shared their testimonies with me. Their hearts for God were so evident throughout the week, and then as I learned more about different translators and different church members and their personal stories, I became just overwhelmed by His goodness. We all came from such different backgrounds, struggles, and pain that God has worked through to bring us all to this point in our lives. Together for a week. I will always, always be thankful to God for bringing all of those people in my life. They encouraged me and taught me more about faith, love and His grace.

There are more stories I could tell…and I probably will at some point. There’s just a lot of emotions I’m still shifting through. But for now, this is what I wanted to share. God used me, God used the people around, but it was not about us. It was all to His glory.

I experienced grace like an avalanche in Costa Rica. A beautiful, unexpected, life-changing avalanche. I’ll never be the same.

I feel like God has more for me in Costa Rica. That I’m not done there quite yet. I don’t know exactly what that means yet, so I would appreciate your prayers in that manner. But I feel like there are more people to reach there and that He wants me to be a part of it.

To all of you who prayed for me and our team, thank you. Your prayers and support made the difference. To all of you I was privileged to meet in Upala, I love you all as my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s all never forget what God showed us in Costa Rica. Ever. Because He is so good.

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