This is the thank you letter I wrote for my trip to Romania and Moldova. I figured you (my readers) would appreciate reading it as well. 🙂
My Dear Family,
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me on my trip to Romania and Moldova! Without your prayers, encouragement, and financial contributions, this amazing experience would have never been possible.
I know beyond a shadow of doubt that this trip was exactly what God wanted for me at this point in my life. It changed me. I feel like I grew up during my three weeks abroad. I went into the trip anticipating transformation, but I did not expect this experience to be so far-reaching and all encompassing. It touched completely unexpected areas of my life.
Although I have been home for a month, I am still struggling to put words to what I experienced and learned. That being said, I want to try to give you a snapshot of what’s on my heart.
As most of you know I am in the process of seriously exploring living abroad as a missionary. My two goals going into this trip were to delve into Eastern Europe, and to delve into life as a missionary in a foreign country. I feel like I accomplished both goals, and then some! We stayed with Word Made Flesh staff members, and living with them gave me the opportunity to fulfill these goals. I was able to fully immerse in their culture, and pick their brains about missionary life. My conversations with them were rich, and my interactions with them deeply inspired me. Their courage, joy, hospitality, openness, and dedication challenged me. They showed me what life among the vulnerable, in all its grit and beauty, looks like, and I came away from my time with them feeling that, while a life abroad will be difficult, I truly want to pursue living in a foreign county.
Although this trip did confirm that I want to go abroad someday, I have no idea where I want to live… and that’s completely ok! For the first part of the trip I was constantly analyzing if I could see myself living in Eastern Europe, or working with Word Made Flesh, and it was exhausting. One morning during chapel with the staff, however, God directly challenged the way I was thinking. During this particular chapel we read Matthew 9:9-13 where Jesus calls his disciples to follow him. Those two words, “Follow me,” have been ringing in my ears ever since. The reality of living for God is that I don’t need to know when or where or how I’ll go. I simply need to be close enough to God to hear His voice when He says, “Go!” Once I had this realization, I felt released to enjoy what was in front of me without having to worry about the future. Trusting God with everything is a lesson I have been intensely learning for five years, and this trip helped me continue to release my preconceived notions of my future to the one who has good plans for His children.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was our nightly debrief meetings. Every evening, David (our amazing trip coordinator, mentor, and friend who serves as the regional coordinator for Word Made Flesh in that portion of the world) would meet with Sierra, Grace, Kira, and I to discuss what we had experienced that day. We would say our consolation (high point) and desolation (low point) and then we would discuss hard things we had encountered and ask questions that had come up throughout the day. Our discussions ranged from defining what poverty is and naming what causes it, to wrestling with how to be ethical consumers and live simply, to exploring who constitutes the unseen and vulnerable in our communities back at home. During our meetings we also did a study on God’s heart for the poor by looking at the poor in scripture, and each of us shared our life stories.
I want to end this letter with a quote I recently came across that really resonates with me. “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Prachett. For me, coming back has been incredibly hard, but in going to Romania and Moldova, I grew into more of the person that God created me to be, and I would not trade my growth for the world! Thank you so much for your grace and support as I implement all I have learned, and dig into where God has planted me for this season. I love you all dearly!