I woke up a mixed bag of emotions. Here it was, finally…the day we were to travel to our conference spot for World Relief…and I was weirded out. I felt excited and nervous, but more than anything—homesick."From the east I summon a bird of prey;from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.What I have said, that will I bring about;what I have planned, that will I do."Isaiah 46:11
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a pretty independent person, and though I love my family and miss them when we’re apart, I’m not normally needy of them after this short length of time. But I was all the way in Cambodia, and I guess that changes things.
By the grace of God, He gave me a gift, and I’m sure it was a gift to many others too. As we were waiting for the shuttle bus to pick us up, we waited in the hotel lobby, our load of suitcases with supplies and the like nearby us. Our two worship leaders on the team pulled out their guitars, in the name of practicing for the conference, and began to sing. Well, there’s a reason they are called worship leaders, because it wasn’t long before our entire team was worshiping alongside them. The lobby clerk did not ask us to be quiet, and neither did the random spectators looming around to observe. I wondered what they were thinking as we sang “God of the City” over Phnom Pehn that morning. Did God give them the ability to understand our language?
I wanted to cry, but that would be silly. Everyone would turn their attention to me, and I didn’t want them to…it was so great knowing that the focus was on the Lord in those moments. He could handle me, and I would let Him, as big a job as it would be.
The bus came, and Katie, the World Relief hostess with the mostest, brought us lattes from the local coffee place to be. (I know, HUGE suffrage for Jesus on this missions trip). They don’t have Starbucks, but they have this place. I don’t even remember the name, but it was gooooooooood. They had the round ice cubes that we could have in our drinks and not worry about…Starbucks could learn a thing or two from this shop. Or maybe it had something to do with withdrawals…but whatever the case, yuhh—um---eeee.
So, with a quad shot added to my see-saw of emotions, we began the long drive to our conference spot hours away. Not long into the drive, the team games began. For hours, we rhymed and reasoned trying to figure out mind-puzzling games such as “Johnny Whoop, Black Magic, the Umbrella Game, some crazy Pictionary Telephone game and others. I was HORRIBLE at all of them, but they were great fun.
After a few interesting “pit stops” (I will spare you the details on the inside jokes here), Katie put a movie on for us. Did I mention it was a looooooong drive to the Koh Kong Province? All the way to the Thailand border!
While my teammates enjoyed “UP!” I took the opportunity to shut my eyes and pray. And cry. Some of the tears slipped out, but luckily everyone was looking “UP” and didn’t notice.
In a way, it’s embarrassing for me to admit the pleads and whines I was praying to the Lord, but it was a huge part of my missions trip experience, so I can’t skip past it.
I asked Him what His purpose was for bringing me all the way to this place. I hadn’t had a single connection to call my family or email them, (as if I should’ve expected such a thing). I kept thinking I would never be able to share all that I’d seen and experienced with them when I got home. For the very first time, I admitted to the Lord that I wanted to go home, but also that I didn’t. I asked for His peace, His provision, His strength to consume me in my weakness. I begged Him to help me appreciate this opportunity and rejoice in these moments of struggle.
It took the rest of the way there, but I began to experience His presence and His calm. With His tender mercy, He began to pick me up from the pit of my pitifulness.
Though my emotions would continue to be shaken in the days to come, I would have a new resolve as I allowed Him to unpack His purposes and plans…all the way in Koh Kong, Cambodia.
"It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up,He had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living,part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone."Ephesians 1:11-12, the Message