The reality is >> People here need Jesus.
Yeah let’s be honest, people everywhere need Jesus, but with each day here my eyes are opened as I begin to see the need here more clearly. A couple weeks ago Natalie and I met a girl at ORT, one of the private universities here in Montevideo. We began talking with her, asking about her life, her desires, her beliefs. After learning about her views on marriage, her trips to the United States and Europe, her ideas about Uruguayan politics, and her experiences with religion, we asked permission to share a little bit about our beliefs. We continued in our less-than-perfect Spanish and started to share that God is real and that He loves her, and then we were immediately interrupted, “That’s nice girls, but God cannot love me because He doesn’t exist”. Wow. Leaving that afternoon and reflecting on our conversation as we walked to the bus stop, we had heavy hearts. In fact I think Nat even had tears in her eyes. It’s not that we feel sad and rejected by the Uruguayans when they don’t believe what we believe, but our hearts break for the way that so many of them have rejected God. The people of Uruguay so clearly need Jesus but they’ve never heard His name, never known someone who could share with them a life transformed by His incredible love and grace. As I go through the mundane of daily life here, it’s moments like these that stop me and force me to realize why God has brought us here. We are here to ask Uruguayan students these questions, to bring their spiritual needs into the light, and to love them with a genuine love. Each day in Uruguay presents a new opportunity to walk closely with the Lord, to do life intimately and honestly with Uruguayans, and to share with them the abundant life that is possible in Jesus Christ.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
The reality is >> This year will change me.
Today I was re-reading the notes I received from friends before I left and found one from Em saying, “I am so proud of you for taking a risk for Jesus. I promise it will be hard – but I promise it will be worth it.” When I read this for the first time on the plane my heart fluttered with fear of the year before me that was full only of huge possibilities and vast unknowns. Now, after merely tasting what this year will be full of, I know this to be true: I am going arrive home after this year different than I was when I arrived here exhausted and excited at 9am on August 26th. God promises that as we abide in Him, He will transform our lives. This means that no matter what we do or where we live or who we are, as long as we are living this Christian life we are being changed to look more like Christ. Now as if God’s power alone isn’t enough, add the fact that I am living in a land where they speak only Spanish, living with women I met a week before we were roommates, living 6000 miles from the support system I have come to trust so dearly, and living with the title of missionary, and change seems not only promised but inescapable. God is at work changing me already in so many ways as I am confronted daily with my negative attitude, my harshness with roommates, and how easy it is to believe lies over God’s truth. As I start to walk in this and live through it, I know that it will absolutely be hard, but more than that it will most definitely be worth it. As the Uruguayans would say, vale la pena.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6
The reality is >> God is faithful.
Isn’t it crazy that no matter how many times we see the Lord provide, we still fall into doubt the minute we need something? I am so insanely guilty of this and so incredibly thankful for a God who continues to pursue me even when I doubt His ability to take care of me. I started last week emotionally and physically exhausted, dealing with things and running on very little sleep. Now looking back on the week, it’s so obvious that God really does know our needs and He really does delight in providing for us. Despite my doubts, the week was full of sunshine, deep conversations, fun times with students, and quality time with my roommates. So many times this week I found myself looking up at the sky or out over the ocean or into the face of a Uruguayan, and seeing God so clearly present in that moment. I don’t know why I ever doubt God when He so clearly cares about the little details of my life and works all things for the good of those who love Him. I am amazed and humbled that this is my job, that I get to serve a God who is perfectly holy, loving, merciful, and faithful.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23