Village Life

This week I’ve been reflecting on my 7-year old self, the innocent prayer of a little girl who told The Lord, “I’ll do anything, be anything, just please don’t make me be a missionary, don’t send me to the jungle (since that is where missionaries live) to stay in a hut with no running water and no toilet paper (since those are essential to survival)”.

Apparently God has a sense of humor, or at least He knows far better than I do what is best. I thought of this little girl this week as I roamed the market looking for anything that somewhat resembled toilet paper to use in the bathroom with a squat toilet and running water only every 3 days to fill the cisterns that also serve as the source for cold bucket showers. Here’s what I would tell her:

Dear 7-year old Sarah,

Guess what? Not all missionaries live in the jungle, most of them have cell phones now, some even have cars and they don’t live in grass huts. But 22 years from now, you’ll find that God has plopped you down in a village in the far west of Cambodia, a country you won’t even know anything about for quite awhile. But don’t worry, because God has uniquely equipped you for this life, this work that He has for you. And the beauty of it is, it is not about you anyway. You are going to get to see His glory displayed, His power at work in a way you can’t even fathom. The heart of the farm girl that you are right now will give you the ability to flex when there’s no running water. You’ll build up muscles washing all those clothes by hand, and I guarantee that as much as you hate mice and snakes and bugs right now, you’ll learn to love a can of Raid and laugh later after screaming at the approach of cockroaches and tarantulas. That spirit of adventure that God buried deep inside of you will come alive when you walk through the market and see whole chickens and still-alive fish, buy meat from a wooden slab after handling different pieces, when you delight in pulling together a yummy meal with no grocery store in sight. Probably now at 7 you would never believe that God would send you somewhere where your full-time job is to talk, all the time, every day. You can still hear all the voices who tell you how shy you are, how quiet you are, how you are the perfect little girl. Well, little Sarah, you are not perfect and don’t let the people who tell you that you can’t win. Because God’s grace is so big, and His power is overflowing. By leaning on His Holy Spirit you will march right up to people, sit on their plastic chair or their wooden platform or their front stoop and tell them about a God who gives hope and peace in the midst of the hard things. You’ll pray in a language you are still learning, you’ll have just barely scratched the surface of what it means to intercede for a people, a nation.

There will be days when you long for a mall or a coffee shop or the luxury of frozen chicken and a break from being photographed and stared at and talked about. But, don’t forget that the God who created the world and created you is the one who holds your hand and goes before you, teaching you what to say. Don’t ever lose sight of Him, don’t ever let go.

Love,
Your almost-29-year old self

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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