I previously mentioned God has been gloriously messing up all my preconceived notions of what our life would be in just the past couple of weeks.
That may not be completely true. While I've only recently (like, very recently) realized just how drastically he is re-arranging my priorities and centering my focus back to Him, if I were going to be honest, I'd point you back another month or so to the starting point of my current inner revival, the point when I really wasn't feeling it, exactly, but I was taking a step of obedience anyway - and one step is all He needs.
It was back when a group from our church returned from a journey to the Holy Land, and my heart started to yearn. My heart that has spent many months overseas, but has not stepped foot out of the midwest, let alone our country, in six years. I longed to go - anywhere. But just because I longed for it, didn't mean it was where I needed to be. Yet, as luck (wink wink) would have it, the very same morning, I noticed an announcement calling for all interested in mission trips for the year to attend an informational meeting.
I still didn't know if I was called to get on a plane, but I knew, without a doubt, God wanted me at that meeting.
So I took a step.
Despite his misgivings of whether we really needed to be there, my husband joined me while we received information about all the upcoming plans our church had for reaching the lost with the name of Jesus. And I tried, believe me I tried, to feel a calling. I tried to feel the nudge to go on a medical trip to Quito, Ecuador - we'd done it before and I definitely had the vernacular down for pharmaceutical translating. But my heart wasn't really in it this time. I thought it would be great to join a group going to Colorado - I mean, we have friends there and I'd really been wanting to go. But I wasn't really sure that was meant for us, either. In fact, if anything, the only trip that even vaguely stuck in my mind was a mission to visit orphans, and other children in need, in Ecuador. But I ignored that thought, because I don't work well with children and I have never felt inclined toward orphanage work. It's not my thing.
So I shoved it away.
The only clear thought I had was how neat it would be to take our children on one of these trips someday. But surely not now. Surely. They're too young, right? As our coordinator of missions continued his spiel, I meandered the "policies and procedures" just to put my mind at ease. Yet it's only stipulation was children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent.
"Are there any questions?"
"Yes, what's the minimum age for a trip like this?" That was the question burning in my mind. But everyone there knew my oldest child was only four. And clearly they would think me an idiot for even asking.
So I shoved it away.
And Philip and I later both agreed. Nothing stuck out to us. We weren't meant for an overseas mission at this time.
Yet, one week later, the thought bubbled again. What would it be like to take my pre-schooler to Ecuador? I pondered how I would entertain her on the plane, or a van, or all the boring lulls trips like these can have when there are scheduling issues or changes in plans. And for every "difficult-for-a-four-year-old" scenario I could drum up, a response immediately popped into my head.
And then He spoke it to me. What I would call my life verse, if I had ever been pushed to claim one, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isaiah 30:21) In that moment, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, I was hearing that voice.
But I still didn't want to believe it. I needed someone to tell me I was wrong. I knew, surely, my husband would think me insane and that would the end of this crazy mental talk.
So I told him my thought. The one about packing up our four-year-old, taking her on a plane and flying to a city in the mountains of Ecuador. I assured him I knew he must think me crazy.
"Actually," he said, quietly, "I don't think you're crazy. I think it would actually be really good for her."
We knew, though, there was still one more step. Because surely someone at the church would see the insanity of even presenting such a thought for consideration. Surely there was a bylaw or something that would put an end to the nonsense. Surely. But deep down I knew. I knew my daughter and I were going to Quito in July.
And that night, when I spoke to the leader of this particular trip, her enthusiasm was genuine when she stated, "She would do so great! The kids we're working with are so much more willing to open up when they have a child their own age to play with."
And that's when the reality struck me. I was out of people to tell me no.
The only bridge left to cross was me turning in that application. It was me saying, "Yes, Lord, we will do this. We will go."
So I took a step.
And this is how I find myself realizing my children can now pick out Ecuador on a map. They know what language is spoken (though their training in it is not quite the success story for which I'd hoped) and they know it'll take a long time on the plane to get there. Micaiah talks about going "on an adventure - like when we go to Ecuador" and Emmett will ask, "Is that Ecuador?" when looking at prayer cards.
My heart is overwhelmed with excitement at introducing my daughter to this South American culture which has so easily become a part of my own. I smile at the thought of her playing side-by-side with the children of Quito - playing house through the language barrier and begging to invite her friends home. And I feel humbled to think she will see Jesus at work, whether she grasps it all or not.
This trip is a life-changer. For both of us.