The past few weeks have been quite a mix of emotions. The path I thought I was heading on seemed to take a sharp u-turn. Ever have one of those times when you thought you were doing what you were supposed to be doing, and suddenly circumstances changed and you were re-directed?
I was in planning and preparation mode for my 7th trip to Russia, something I have been called to do for the past few years. However, in the midst of preparation I was blind-sided by a feeling that I was not supposed to go on this trip. After spending a lot of time praying about it and listening, it became clear that I was called to stay home this time. When I finally made the decision, I felt immediate relief but also deep grief. It’s an interesting combination of emotions really. While, on one level, I felt sure that I was doing the right thing, I was also overcome with sadness for not being able to see the kids in Slobodskoy that I have grown to love. Many of them will graduate this year and I probably won’t see them again.
A few weeks ago, I had written them letters, in anticipation of the trip, and now I knew I would have to re-write the letters. The interesting thing was that the first time I wrote the letters, it was a great struggle to find anything to say. I knew I would see them in a few weeks, so it seemed silly to write to them when they would be receiving the letter while I was there with them. It took forever just to write a few sentences and these first letters did not have much substance at all. I was still struggling with my decision to stay home when I sat down to re-write the letters. But the amazing thing is, I had absolutely no problem at all writing them the second time. The words just flowed out of me. And I’m talking about not just 1 or 2 letters, but 7 of them. All the things I knew I had to say, that I wanted them to hear. This could be the last conversation I had with some of them, so I knew that my words really mattered. It was so easy to write them – and it seemed to be a huge confirmation from God, saying “See, I can still use you – right here.” “Your words matter.”
Now, I know there are people who are very gifted at conversation, and I admire them and marvel at how they do it. I am just not one of them. I have always been better at writing than speaking. Not that I’m that good at writing – it’s just that I’m worse at speaking. There are things I want to say, but when I open my mouth they usually don’t come out as intended. (Just ask my family – they will agree.) But writing is different for me (probably because you can edit or have someone else edit for you). There is more time to think about what to say when you are writing. In Slobodskoy, when we are with the orphans, things move pretty fast. After a 2 day journey to the orphanage, we only have 4 ½ days to spend with the kids before our 2 day journey home. So, you have to make sure you have the conversations you need to have in those 4 ½ days. For someone like me, who is not a natural born conversationalist, this can be a challenge. It has gotten easier over the years because now I know the kids better, but still I feel like the fullness of what I want to say, I can never utter. Thank God for our interpreters! I am sure they make me sound a lot better than I actually do
Staying home and writing letters is starting to make a lot more sense to me. Although it is very hard to think about not being with the orphans myself, I realize that having faith in God means trusting that He is there and He loves them more than I do. He was there before Mission 1:27 ever made the first trip to Slobodskoy. He was there before we even knew about the children there. And He will be there whether we are there or not. Can He use us over there? Certainly! But He can use us here too!