Written on 1/25/2011
For those of you who missed the last few letters, I have been living in
downtown Monrovia with a Liberian family since December 21st.
I was waiting to hear on a job opportunity with Samaritan's Purse
International Relief Organization. During these past 7 weeks I've poured out my life into my neighbors (4 major family-16 kids) in one of the
pourest and downtrodden communities in Monrovia. It is located right behind one of the Nations most populated prisons, in a high crime area, and the community is probably somewhere near 90% muslim.
To be honest, many of you might cringe after reading that description, but for me, it has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life to be living among these beautiful people- eating, drinking, bathing, sitting, laughing, praising, crying, and traveling by taxi. I have had the chance to be Jesus, for real, to people who are literally dying to know about Him. To experience the true day to day life of Liberians, experience people's trials, embrace hardships together with Christ, and to faithfully run with joy and thanksgiving after the hope that we have in Jesus with these amazing families has been the highlight of my experience thus far.
In the last 6 weeks I've also gotten really involved with teaching Drama, and training up leaders in my church's drama dept. What incredibly gifted,
passionate and talented group of young people! I've also begun investing in an Art Discipleship Program with the young adult creative-types in the drama and choir departments of the church. When I'm with these youth, helping them to know God deeper and encouraging them to grow and heal through their creative hearts, I feel like I'm doing what Im made for!
I have fallen in love with not only these families that I was living among but with several dear families from my church. The Pastor (Momolu Dukuly and His lovely wife) and his younger brother Alex' family (including his wife Patience). Patience has become one of my dearest friends in the world. No words could possibly express how deeply I have fallen in love with this precious daughter of God. Whenever I'm with her I feel like Jesus is literally sitting right there with us because He is just so delighted in every moment of our interactions.
Do you have those kind of people in your life? If you don't I'm telling, find some ;) Be the type of friend that YOU desire to walk with and you just might find yourself surprised by the people that you meet along the path of loving others without expectations. I can only say this because less than 5 years ago, I can remember several conversations with amazing women in my life where I literally bawled my eyes out before them telling them how lonely I felt even though I was surrounded, and I mean surrounded, by some of the most incredible women on the planet.
I was completely de-railed when I realized the reason I was lacking the depth in relationships that I so desired was because of the walls I had built around myself to protect from being seen and hurt. I had no idea that I was running away from being truly loved and seen by others (others who would love me dearly) and into the arms of my own selfishness and to individuals who were also loving very selfishly. We have to risk, and pursue, and love first, and yes even ache deep within in certain moments to truly experience the depths of life-giving relationship.
All of that to say, things began to change when I began to truly love- just for the sake of loving not for the sake of gaining a friendship!
It has been quite the process of waiting these last few months. God has been teaching me so much about steadfastness and trust as I feel that I have been waiting in almost every area of my life (where to live, job, relationship with Austin). I'm learning that it's through the waiting in the midst of the storm, the opening and closing of doors, and the humble submission to His will in the midst of it all that develops the steadfastness I've been praying for. The bible says that after you have suffered for a while and endured with the strength of Christ that you will experience the true deep steadfastness of the Lord. Let me tell you, it's true, and it is the most incredible peace you will ever know.
With all of that said, here are the changes. I just moved into a house
on beautiful ELWA beach with 4 single ladies. I've been given an
opportunity to work alongside Samaritan's Purse on several projects in
exchange for housing, transport, and groceries, and a small stipend.
They are giving me a trial period through the end of February to see if a full-time project manager position will become available with one of their upcoming projects. Please pray with me that God will clearly show me if SP is where I'm supposed to be for the next 1-2 years. It's a big commitment with lots of time, energy, and travel in the bush communities. It's exhausting but fulfilling work that pays really well in a beautiful and supportive community. It's not perfect but it would be a blessing and a great opportunity. My biggest hesitation is the fact that I deeply want to be investing in Liberians, and not just living the typical white expat life. You can have both, but it takes extreme devotion and intentional discipline, neither of which I'm incredible at but I see it as a great chance to learn (you know, that steadfast theme again).
As far as Relationship, all I can really say is that Austin and I have
decided to go separate ways during this season of our lives. We don't know what God has in the future but we both sense wholeheartedly that our hands need to be open to let God give and take away as He chooses. Yes this has caused me grief and pain, but we can rest and find so much peace when we allow God to show us His character and His promises through every season of our lives. I have nothing bad to say about Austin, and I will continue to honor and respect the man that God has made him to be.
I can't thank you all enough for the loving support and encouragement that so many of you have offered me all throughout our relationship.