I never envisioned this day coming – to be honest I was ready to throw in the towel at the 6 month mark.
Four years ago today I got on a plane.
I was excited. I loved long plane rides with free movies, what’s not to love about that?
I was excited to say that I lived in Europe, c’mon that’s pretty rad!
I had just sold my trusted car “Truman”, had a garage sale, or rather a “Send A Girl To Czech Sale” sold my life’s possessions, and was still in deep shock and grieving my cousins sudden death the month before.
To say that I was naive and numb is hitting the nail on the head. I had no idea what was coming, none!
It feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve been crying all morning (regretting wearing any makeup today and learning that Covergirl liner stings!) thinking about the girl that got on that plane. She feels like a character I knew but disconnected from me, the me of today.
I knew that God had closed the doors for me to be in Africa. I knew that God had said “Go” and was pointing toward a small little Eastern European country that was cold and dark in the winter, where everyone was white. A place that offered a community that liked to live life in a raw and transparent way.
I thought I could beat it. I could be the triumphant missionary that succeeded beyond all expectations, or training, a wonder-girl that slipped into the country unnoticed and thrived in the culture, the language, the community. Buaahhh!
I remember my first Spring Conference, it was only 4 days after I had moved to Czech and I had my mask of self-sufficiency on lock-down with a big smile and helping hand to offer anyone that looked my way. But when the speaker asked the entire conference room to break up into groups of three or four to pray for each other and share what had been going on in their lives…I fled. Literally! I mumbled something about desperately needing to use the ladies room and went to hide in the toilet. And when my time in the ladies room exceeding what was adequate for the ladylike business of #1, I even came up with some important business that I needed to attend to upstairs...in a back closet somewhere. I did NOT want to be in that room. It felt too intimate, too vulnerable. I didn’t fit in there, although that broom closet wasn’t exactly comfy either. I was just here to do work (the 2×3 tour) those were the ‘real’ missionaries. I was just hired staff.
And 6 months later when I sat in the apartment with Mel and Amy and cried and told them that I was done, I wanted to move home, I was clinging to that mask. I did not want to ask for help, I did not want to need help, I wanted to do it all and to kick some a$$ at it all. My identity was so wrapped up in what I could do that I didn’t know who I was beyond it. And at that sixth month mark I was at the end of my strength and I didn’t want to find out what happens when I slipped up and someone saw me, behind the mask, just me.
I have cried countless tears while living here. And I’m thankful that even today as I cried on a skype call with Mel he still has a sense of humor with all of my tears and emotions. He and Amy have led me so beautifully in these past four years, they have prayed for me, over me, with me. They have given generously to me in so many ways, they have brought me into their family and given me a place here in Cesky Tesin and in the Ellenwood home. They have been models of a beautiful marriage. One that serves one another, honors and respects each other and in the moments when they don’t do it right they are full of grace to allow the other person to try again. And most importantly, they have led me to the feet of my Heavenly Father. They have believed for me when I didn’t have enough to believe for myself and they have witnessed so much of God’s work in my life.
This journey of four years has been full. And today as I sit amidst boxes and pack up my apartment and prepare to move for the fourth time in four years I am filled to overflowing with thanksgiving at all that God had prepared for me as he pointed toward that little country in the middle of Europe. My God is so sweet to pull me out of the place that I was living in my head and heart and put me in a country, in a job, in a community that has not allowed me to live an ordinary life with the Lord. But has pushed me to see beyond myself, my flesh, and to witness the miraculous love of my God. An extraordinary life I have been blessed to live here in Czech. So the tears – they are still falling, but I taste them on my lips and am content to sit back in this moment and be reminded of the great and awesome God that I love and the ways that His thoughts and plans are above mine. He knew what I needed and where I needed to go. He knew.
And He knows…