Well, I've been trying to sum it all up in my mind...and I just am not sure where to start.
I think I will start with this:
What the heck?!?!?!?!
I mean if that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does. Really, though...I spent a year of my life getting ready for this. A whole year-no kidding-dedicated to figuring out the logistics of a trip like this...finding out how to make it possible for my church to send out a short-term missionary for the first time; looking for answers to questions about bank accounts and visas (ironic, no?) and finances. I was working my butt off and living in other people's homes to save money (which I am still very grateful for). I spent all kinds of time translating Bible study materials into Spanish, preparing financially, spiritually, mentally, musically, technologically, linguistically...I spent serious time in thought and prayer and determined what, exactly, i hoped to accomplish during my time in Ecuador. I waded through all kinds of murky, mucky, muddy feelings of being incompetent and unqualified. I put my stuff in storage, quit all three of my jobs, and followed my God to another hemisphere......and after all that, I only got six blog posts in before having to follow Him right back home.
It's just a shame. Feels like a shame.
So that was my first reaction....but then, as I've thought more about it, I've begun to realize that firstly, it's not a shame. All that stuff was necessary and helpful. And just because things didn't go according to my plan, that doesn't mean they're not going according to some
plan. I know it would not be in God's nature to take me on a journey and leave me hanging half-way through it, because He is not a god who leaves us. We're a team, you know? A "whether the weather be cold, whether the weather be hot, we'll be together whatever the weather, whether we like it or not" kind of team. (that's a little rhyme I know)
I also believe that this change-in-plans is not an obstacle being thrown our way, or some kind of bump in the road that God is having to make work for good. I'll tell you why I believe that. When I was sitting in the immigration office in Ecuador on the 22nd of September, with the imminent expiration of my visa looming over my head, I remember praying while Marcelo talked with the immigrations officer. I prayed for God to take action; to make something cool happen, you know? To act on my behalf; whatever He needed to do to help me stay in the country, that's what I was asking Him to do. And there was a very clear moment as I prayed that prayer, in which I recognized the voice of my God in my head or my heart or my ears or wherever it is we hear God from when we do hear Him....and He asked me a question. A simple one.
"Amy, do you trust Me?"
Well...I have to say, I do. It's not always easy. And interestingly enough, it's harder for me to trust Him in the little things than in the big things. But I do. Instinctively, I always want
to trust Him, and since trust is a choice, and taking into consideration all the times in which I have chosen to trust and the times I have chosen not to and the respective outcomes of those decisions...well, the bottom line is, when it comes to God, trusting Him is the more logical option. So after all that went through my head, and I made my choice, I answered.
"Yes. I trust You."
And, no kidding you, almost immediately after I spoke those words in my heart to my God, I heard that immigration officer say, "no, I'm sorry there's nothing we can do, she has to leave the country tomorrow."
You know what? This...this me being here and not there...this isn't the detour. This is the plan. This is the right road and I'm on it. I think that "do you trust me" said a lot more than just what it said. It wasn't just a question. God wasn't curious. He already knew what my answer would be...you know, 'cause of that whole omniscience thing. He wasn't asking if I trust Him. He was asking if I was on board or not. He was saying, "Hey, are you with Me or not? I am about to do something you do not expect, and if it's going to work, you need to be on My team."
That's what I really think. So...here I am, being here and not there. And even though this isn't where I thought I'd be right now, I'm good with it, because I trust it's what needs to happen. And I'm not exactly sure what "the plan" is now...but who has ever
really been sure of what it is? I mean, come on. We don't know. We never really
know. We just keep going with what we think we should do, until God changes our course a little. Right? Sure there are some things we can be positive about. But those things are few. They include loving God, loving others, and putting our faith into action. That's about it, my friends. Those are the things we get a clear "yes!" on. But, at least in my personal experience...it's reeeeeally rare to hear a loud "yes!" when I tell God my plans. Honestly, I mostly just do the stuff I do because I never hear a "no."
So...here's what I'm currently not hearing a "no" on:
it's called the university project. it started when Paddy and Gianna e-mailed me while I was in Ecuador to say they'd been thinking a lot about it and wanted to know what the possibility was of them being able to pay for Ismael, one of the leaders of the church in El Recreo, to be able to go to college. Well, wow! right? I know! It was really a cool feeling because not only did they both e-mail me on separate occasions without having talked to each other about it, but I had also thought about how neat it would be to do something like that for him. He sat next to me on the bus on the way to the leadership retreat that our team put on for them in June. We had a conversation about school and he told me he wanted to study but couldn't yet because of the money. When I asked how much it costs to study at the University of Guayaquil, he told me, "it's about $500 a year." Can you believe that? Well, I guess Paddy and Gianna had had similar conversations with him during the course of our two-week mission trip and they decided to take action because...well, that's
the shame...that someone with such a heart for God, who is already making an impact on the world for Him, would not end up serving the Lord in the place where he really should end up, just because of money. So that shouldn't happen. God needs Christians in every work environment, and Ismael really should end up in the one he's got a desire to be in (because God put that desire in him for a reason). So we decided to do our part, using what God has blessed us with to help out.
We are super excited! In January, Ismael is going to begin his studies in computer programing at the University of Guayaquil. And since there are three of us, and we were all interested in paying for his studies on our own anyway, we thought, "what the heck? let's send someone else to school too!" So we are. Jomayra will also begin her studies in January at the University of Guayaquil. Jomayra has always wanted to study languages and work in the tourism industry. She just hasn't had the opportunity to do that...because of money.
Well we got to thinking, if when we heard that the money was the only issue, and we were moved to take action...well maybe other people will feel the same way. And there are a lot of people in the church in El Recreo who want to study at the University. So we decided to work hard at it and make this into something that other people can participate in. We're beginning a non-profit organization that will help provide support to facilitate college education for Christians who want to impact the world for Christ in their chosen profession. We are hoping it will be successful. It's really not that much money, if you think about it...to change someone's life forever. It's way worth it.
The only problem is...if we're going to be a legit organization, raising money to help people go to college in Ecuador, with a representative of our organization (that's me!) living in El Recreo hopefully within the next year, making a difference, being the change we want to see in the world...bottom line, what we really need to have is a logo. And, well...we don't have one. What to do? Any ideas? Let me know what you think!