As of today, I am two weeks away from departure, providing flights don't get cancelled and unforetold circumstances do not strike. That's quite a mouthful. For as long as I can remember, the only proviso to take into consideration was money, but even money isn't as powerful as it once was. Until this point, I'd been fairly pleased with the reality check of God's might, so my next statement is very literal. God willing and providing, I return home in two weeks. This blog post will hopefully tie a nice bow on my thoughts towards leaving New Zealand and give more clarity than questions to my thoughts towards returning home.
Someone very wise and somewhat hardened by the toil of life once told me that if you have two tasks to do in a day, one of which is to skin a bear and the other is to skin a trout, tackle the bear first. Taking this advice, please enjoy my thoughts and very mixed feelings towards returning home. I want you to imagine with me. For those of you whom visualization doesn't come naturally for, don't worry. I'll be descriptive. Imagine you've had a long day at work. It was good and very productive, but long. Nothing seemed to work out quite the way you had planned for it to, but not to worry! You're home now. Home, where the heart is. Home, the place you dream of when work seems to be heaping coals upon your head. You take a moment outside your house or apartment to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and whisper the word "home at last" to yourself...but then you open the door. You open the door, and you almost wish you hadn't.
Inside is an absolute mess. Your family/housemates/pets/spouse/landlord/anyone who has access to your home has wreaked havoc upon your space. The couch is covered in crumbs and stains, the floor looks and smells like ammonia, the walls have some very new and modern art upon them that suspiciously resembles the finger paint work your 3 year old did last week, the kitchen has billows of smoke coming from both(?!) the stove and the oven, and there's screaming...lots and lots of screaming from you, from everyone. All these things but you wouldn't walk out and go back to work. You don't care to go find a new apartment and new family. You don't make some crazy, brash decision that includes the words "one-way" and "Barbados." No. You put on your rubber gloves, open the windows, bust out the pinesol, and get to work.
As for my reflections on living in Auckland for nearly a year now, the best word to describe my feelings is grateful. I'm grateful for the people I have met, the experiences I have had, the friends I have made, the mountains/volcanoes I have climbed(both literally and figuratively), but most all I am blessed beyond belief to have been given the opportunity to serve. I have learned and lived so much about the cycle of serving and the trails of service. Before, I thought the process rather simple;
I sacrifice time and serve in the name of Jesus and then community is served. A leads to B then A goes home. You would think I would know better than to oversimplify things at this age, but it seems that some lessons take longer to penetrate my thick skull than others. Nevertheless, the cycle of service as I've come to understand it at this time goes as follows: an individual or group serves their church/community and is fed both by the act of service and the impact on/appreciation from the community which then encourages that individual to keep serving to feed their souls and God-given gifts. This way everyone gets served. This half of the equation comes very naturally to me and is basically the more in depth version of what I thought service was initially. However, there is a whole other cycle at the same time. If the member who is serving allows others to serve by providing them with any number of things(resources, car rides, shelter, food, their time or energy, skills, etc.), then those contributing individuals then also become invested servants and parts of the cycle being fed. All this to say, a selfless servant cannot be a fiercely independent servant. Independence and the pride that comes with it has to be sacrificed so that the community and its individuals may have an opportunity. This is what is at the heart of being a missionary. Serving and allowing others to serve in God's work is more important than one's pride or one's fear of being a burden. Let me try that again: serving and allowing others to serve in God's work is more important than my pride or my fear of being a burden to others.
Thank you for reading, and to all of you who diligently read each post I put up, thank you for being my cheering section! Y'all have served me by taking interest in my work and inspiring me to write these blogs even when it might be the last thing I want to do.
Resident in Mission from WME