Hello from California! I've been here at New Staff Orientation, and Wow! my head (and heart!) are full.
I think the theme for the week has been "God is so good!" Hearing the stories of how God has led broken, messy people to this place and time has been a little taste of Heaven.
I can't do it all justice now (probably won't ever be able to!) but wanted to let you know I'll give it my very best try when I get back to the D.R. Si Dios quiere, we'll fly home at midnight tonight, and arrive in Santo Domingo around 3pm tomorrow. Prayers for smooth flights home would be most welcome.
For me, some of the sweetest times of the week were meeting 'new' sisters and brothers in Christ. I've known some of them through email for a year or more, and knew they were pretty awesome. But, getting to know them, hearing parts of their stories... like I said, simply Heavenly!
The first day we all met, everyone looked nice and pulled together, and it was good. That afternoon we were invited to share a bit of how we got to this place in our lives. Some of the stories brought tears to our eyes. What wasn't visible when we first met were the scars and wounds we carried. The wounds that Jesus has been redeeming.
Last night, our last night together, one of the new girls in her 20's (whose story has some elements of mine), said she had been a little nervous about meeting all the 'missionaries' because they would be so spiritual and holy. But, she shared with us all last night, you're broken, regular people. And, you all have baggage, too!
I hope it's an encouragement to you to know that God invites the messy, the broken, the baggage-carrying regular people, to serve Him. And friends, your call might be different, but is no less vital to His kingdom. Truly, truly, it is vital!!
Sitting last night surrounded by other 'weaklings', there was excitement and power - in the Holy Spirit. Looking around the room, having heard those stories, what I saw was the beauty of Christ. Not in the perfection of these followers of His, but in the ugliness He has redeemed and is still redeeming. The glow of Jesus was shining from faces.
What a privilege to serve the One who takes the stinkiest, ugliest, most shame-filled parts of us, and transforms them into a sweet, sweet offering. Only He can do that, and He's doing it in big ways!!
I pray that as you go into this new year, you, too, will have the blessing of seeing your brokenness as the best thing about you. Because in those places, the light of Jesus shines out. So, celebrate and share what God has done in you, and through you. In our weakness, He truly is strong.
Okay, gotta dash. Much more later!