Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not Your Typical Mission Trip Recap

I've been back from my mission trip to the Dominican Republic for over a week now, and every day I've delayed writing this blog post. It's not because I don't want to tell you all the amazing experiences I had - because I do. I just don't know how to craft the right words to make you feel like you were right there with me. And honestly, I'm having lots of feelings about being back home. Sad feelings. Lost feelings. How can I make this trip matter feelings. To be fair, I was warned that this would happen. That people would ask about how the trip was, but in reality they don't want to hear the stories of life change. They want a simple answer - an awesome,  an incredible or just to see the pictures. And they want to pat me on the back for going. So that's what I've been spouting off for over a week now. Simple answers. I've told short stories about the heat, the lack of wifi, the food and the overall culture shock. The things I feel like people expect to hear.
But I have yet to sit down with someone and just pour my heart out. Tell someone how many countless times I cried because I saw God moving in this community. About how every single night I prayed to God that He would use me, and everyday He delivered. Tell someone how I so desperately want to live like these people - putting God before everything, no distractions in life and using every breathe to praise Him. That's not even an exaggeration, they use every ounce of energy God gives them to praise Him. I have never felt more loved on and accepted in my life.
Our first time seeing the Greenhouse Project area, where we would work together with the people in the community to complete the greenhouse. And hearing Pastor Daniel's vision that God was bringing to life.
Tell my stories about Anyi - a fierce, joyous woman who loves nothing more in this world than her Savior - a woman who hugged me for 20 minutes while we both cried as she continually said to me "I love you" & "God bless you" - a woman who I was forever changed by knowing for only a short week.
I changed my profile picture on Facebook to one of myself with one of my favorite little guys that I met, Wine (pronounced Win-nae). So people have seen his big gorgeous smile, but they don't know how much he touched my heart every time he hugged me and how we laughed together when I taught him how to wink. Or how we prayed together for both of our families.
I haven't told anyone how I was overwhelmed with emotion when I was speaking at their church, and telling a testimony of how God even brought me to their country in the first place. How blessed I felt in that very moment. Blessed to feel so connected with our God, blessed to have the chance to meet these people who wanted to pour out love all over me, pray for me and accept me as part of their family. Blessed to feel like I was making even the most tiny of differences for one moment in time. Not because of my work, but because I had been obedient when God called me and he was using me in ways I never imagined.
Pastor Daniel's Church in El Carrizal
The guy on the far left, Zacharias gave his life to God while we were there. It was incredible to see him surrender control and lead the way for his younger brothers.
This beautiful little girl, Angela, prayed for our team after we hosted VBS. She thanked God for bringing us, she prayed for our mission, for God to stir deep down in our hearts once we were back home, and she prayed that God would one day bring us all back together because we are forever family.
3 Community Pastors and our team leaders praying over them. The girls in yellow walked for 2.5 hours to come and sing at our community picnic. They wanted to see the people from America that God brought to serve the community of El Carrizal, and more importantly they wanted to pray over us and sing with us.
I've been internally battling with how to apply everything I felt while I was in the DR. I spent my time there thinking that I was missing the comforts of home, only to come home and find that life feels different. It feels cluttered and I'm finding myself distracted all over again. I've been playing catch up at work. I've spent a lot of time sleeping. This was all time that I could have spent praying for what's next, and telling stories that glorify God. Then yesterday, I read this post from my sweet friend Kenzie, about her similar struggle coming home from a trip to Africa. I'm borrowing her words right now, because I can't seem to find the right ones of my own.
"I wish someone would've told me that every time I now go to my closet, all I really want to do is throw everything out. That my style will never be the same again because the maxi skirts and t-shirts I lived in during my time there now hold a whole new meaning.

I wish someone would've told me that every time people ask how my trip was, I would daze off for a solid five minutes and still struggle to utter the words: "It...was...uh...perfect. It was perfect." Only to be disappointed with my response because HOW? How do I even begin to explain the way Jesus shattered my heart during my time there?

I wish someone would've told me I'd want to punch a wall when the response is, "Oh Kenzie, you are such a good person!" or "You have such a big heart!" or "You are a brave soul!" Because I'm not. I'm not any better than Abraham and Sarah's doubts or Rahab's lifestyle. My heart is the size of everyone else's and I am anything but brave. What I am is real. I'm afraid. Of being where God wants me to be. Of not being where He wants me to be."
All I can do is trust that I am right where God wants me to be. I don't want any recognition for doing what I feel like God called me to do. I want Him to glorified through this trip, through my stories and through the work we did in El Carrizal. If I learned anything at all while I was gone it was that I want to love bigger. Love like Jesus does. And loving can be hard for me. I'm sure certain situations will bring feelings of terror as I attempt to put these words into actions. But what an amazing feeling, when we just let go and let God do his thing through us. That's ALL I want my life to be about.

I know that as long as I am willing to let Him guide me, He will continue to amaze me.
Matthew 5:16 (NIV) 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.



Amanda aka Manda said...

This post brought me to tears! I want to hear those stories, every last one of them in great detail! Each time you tell a story or your trip, short or long version, it glorifies Him! I'm still in awe of how He has grown your heart! I pray for that for myself one day. I can't wait to see where He guides you next!

Tracy said...

Goosebumps and tears!!!

This brought back so many memories - you just don't know that feeling unless you have experienced it - and it keeps you wanting MORE MORE MORE! God will give you peace in that just like your friend said - you are where he wants you to be. Keep talking about it and be honest! If you can't talk about it to anyone at home, blog or talk about it with me!!! :) Be joyous about the experience and those amazing people!! They will stay alive and real in your heart when you keep talking about it.

You DO have a big heart and it's perfectly fine to be humble about it!! Just give all the praise to God as I know you do :)

I'm ALWAYS here if you want to send me a quick note on how you are feeling. I'll email you my phone number - we need to be texting pals! :)

holli said...

Beautiful post and pictures. I envy the experience you've had on the mission trip. I still have never been on one myself.

Amy said...

Nikki, I WISH we could have a coffee date, me you AND Kenzie, and I would listen to both of you talk about your trips for hourssssss.

I was warned about that too, that most people will only want a few word response. But those that do want to hear everything? They are the biggest blessing.

We HAVE to meet in real life one day, mmmkay??

Erin @ Happily Obsessed said...

Seriously, goosebumps! I can't imagine!! I want you to share your stories, your real stories. That is what you went there for, real, honest moments. Love you!

Helene in Between said...

oh I just loved reading this post. it is so hard to put into words the feelings you felt and the things that changed your life but I so appreciate you telling us all. what an amazing and incredible experience. you are so inspirational.

P!nky said...

Wow, you really were able to sum it all up lady, even if you think you didn't.

Coming home from a mission is tough because you've been on this spiritual high, with all these other spiritual people and then you're back to the mundane life of normal. So, while I don't know HOW amazing your trip is, know that I totally understand when you say it's perfect!

Joey said...

I can only imagine how all of this feels, friend. It's like coming down from something and realizing that you're different...that you've changed...and the surroundings you left behind that you missed SO MUCH while you were gone just don't feel the same or offer the same comfort they once did. Let God work on your heart through this, and keep your ears open. It'll come to you, how to use this. It will. Just have faith in that.

Jill @ Bluegrass Belle said...

I loved reading this. It's beyond anything I can imagine because I don't have a similar experience but one thing you said really spoke to me. "I want to love bigger. Love like Jesus does. And loving can be hard for me." That says a lot :) I am proud of you for being obedient.

Pamela said...

This is amazing! I would love to hear the stories! A man from our church went to Haiti earlier this summer to help build homes & serve. He's wanting to go back next Summer & offered it up to anyone in the church that would want to go. B & I would love to do something like that!

Tami said...

First- I have your books- we need to plan a get together time so I can get them to you! Second- I would LOVE to hear your stories. I went on my first trip back in college to Honduras and came home with very similar feelings. My next three were to Greece- not the same feelings because of the type of trip it was but still there and then my last two trips were to Romania and it was a similar heart response to yours. We can share stories! Soon!

Because Shanna Said So said...

I have the chills!! Thanks for sharing as much as you could put into the end of the don't have to feel the need to explain your trip...the details or what you saw and learned...that is what is so happened to YOU with God and at the end of the day that is what is most important. We are here to applaud you and support your journey...I am so proud of you...cliche as that may sound! xoxo

Elizabeth said...

This made me cry. This is a great first post of yours for me to see! So glad you got such a life changing experience!

Love Always,

Kenzie @ Life According to Kenz said...

Goosebumps. Tears. Everything in between. I'm just getting around to reading this post! Nikki, I am so proud of and so happy for you. These feelings are tough to deal with but I truly wouldn't have it any other way. God used us and I want that no matter what the cost. :) I LOVE YOU! And ditto to what Amy said... I wish we could have a coffee date together! I want to hear EVERY detail!!!!