This time of year also brings thoughts about the future and what's ahead... and a lot of decisions.
Yesterday I had a chance to sit down with Laurens and Cheryl to talk briefly about their plans for next year. Over the past few weeks they have been praying about what's next for their family, and they've also been in contact with Brad and the MOH board about what's next for their roles at the Mission of Hope. There have been a lot of different variables that affect their decision about continuing their commitment, but as we spoke last evening, they spoke very positively about serving in their roles for another year at the Mission of Hope.
As you have probably already guessed, this decision also has a great affect on me. Their children need a teacher, and they have asked me to begin praying about possibly continuing with them.
This thought brings mixed emotions. First, excitement.
Excitement about all of the possibilities of what is to come. Excitement about being a part of the mission in such a stage of growth and blessing. Excitement about becoming involved in other areas that the Lord may be leading me as I take another step of obedience.
Like Laurens and Cheryl, I feel like this year has been productive and fruitful, but I've only just begun. Thinking back to my planning over last summer for this school year, I was so blind and unaware about what I was getting into. I feel like I could be such a better teacher with a chance to do it again. If I stay to teach another year, this summer I would be so much more capable of discerning what I do and don't need, and wiser in structuring the school year so that my students can get the most out of our school time. In life, you don't always get second chances, but this would be one of them.
So yes! I'm excited! I'm thrilled! What a great time this next year will be! I'm so ready!
And yet, something inside me is screaming.... Wait a minute! Is this REALLY what you want?
As much as this decision bring anticipation and excitement, it also brings equal feelings of fear and hesitancy.
You would think by now I'd have the whole fear thing down pat. What do I have to be afraid of? I know exactly what I'm getting into this time. I've been through the ups and downs. I've survived (so far!).
But the truth is that the whole idea of me doing this all over again scares me to death.
I admit that when I committed to this year in February 2008, I was aware of the possibility that the commitment could be extended, but I had too much else to worry about with the whole first-time move to concern myself with the possibility of another year commitment.... I wouldn't have to worry about that until........... now.
To be honest, I kind of thought that I would do this year in Haiti and be off the hook. Leave my home, serve in a new country, live different lifestyle, be changed, and then be finished with the whole 'missionary' life. I know it probably sounds bad, but I really felt that the Lord would take me away and do some things in my heart, and then take me back to where I started and everything else in my life would all go back to normal too.... I guess He has something else up His sleeve.
I've been down this road before, so I know what's causing the fear. I'm afraid of loosing something... afraid of loosing everything. I thought I had let down my walls and been broken enough, but apparently there is still some work to be done. I admit I still have a good grip on a few areas on my life, even in Haiti. My knuckles are tight and I'm stubborn about letting go. It's going to take some more deep valleys before I realize how weak I am.
So now I'm left with two sides.... Two opposite extremes, and I have to find myself somewhere in between.
There is a verse that God gave me this morning that ties into these feelings I have about weighing the options....
And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?
The first part of this verse talks about the cost of being a disciple. A follower of Jesus. In order to share in the joy and love of being with Jesus, we also must be prepared to experience pain and suffering just as Jesus did. But Jesus doesn't just ask us to choose Him. He teaches us to first count the cost.
I feel like that's what I'm doing right now. Counting the cost. I'm not jumping on board yet. I'm thinking.... Thinking about what it means to be gone another year... Thinking about the events I'll have to miss. I'm thinking about the people that I love who I won't get to see. I'm thinking about the sacrifices I have to make financially. There is a cost, and it's not cheap. But the question I'm asking is this - Is it worth it?
I hold onto a promise that it is. That His gift is so much better than what I have to miss out on. Just as He has shown me this year in Haiti, His grace is sufficient, His ways are so much higher, and His plans are more abundant than I could ever plan for myself.
I have a decision to make. I ask in the week to come you would especially keep this in your prayers for me. That the Lord would make the choice clear to me, and that above all I would have a peace that passes all understanding. Thank you for journeying with me on this road. It's been quite a ride hasn't it? And apparently it isn't over yet.
Just a note, on Tuesday (April 7), I will be traveling with the other Mission of Hope staff-ers (the van der Mark family, Rachel and Amy) to the Dominican Republic for a week. It's our school spring break, which was initially planned by the van der Mark's as a family getaway, but with their 5-person family they automatically got upgraded at the resort to 2 rooms. As a family they only need one room, so they offered the other one to Rachel, Amy and I. I'm looking forward to having a week off and away, and it also falls in good timing for me to take a break with more time to reflect and pray about my future.
Thank you for your support and prayers during this time and I will post an update when I return.