So...I've just celebrated 4 years in the Dominican! I put a post on facebook and received nearly 200 likes- which I am choosing to take as a good thing and not as a sign that nearly 200 people in the UK are glad they don't have to see me!!
Anniversaries, new years, birthdays and important dates in our personal lives are usually a time when we stop and take stock - we cast our little minds back over the last year/decade etc and reflect on Life. Sometimes we reflect with sorrow or shame, other times with regret, other times (hopefully) with joy and excitement at what the last few months have held for us.
I think its great to think.
Then, most of us turn our minds towards the future, the great abyss of time spreading out before us... What will the next 4 years hold? Sometimes thinking about the future is thrilling, other times freaky.
Well, this week I've been thinking how amazing it is to not have a clue! If I had known in 2009 when I got on that plane to come on a 2 week mission trip to the Dominican that 4 1/2 years later I would be living there I would honestly of never come.
Im so glad I did.
I agreed to come for 8 months and I refused to talk about the future. 8 months felt like an eternity on day 1, getting off that plane, speaking no Spanish and knowing no one.
But now, with the beauty of hindsight, I am so glad that I came, so glad that I dared to live, that I was obedient to what I believed God was calling me too. I have had some of the most amazing, humbling, exciting, terrifying, hilarious and challenging experiences of my life in the last 4 years.
Being obedient to God and coming to the DR has given me an opportunity to love so many people, to help so many, to care for so many and to share life with so many. God has enabled me to meet hundreds of people from all over the world on mission trips, to speak into each others lives, to share and to walk with each other. God has allowed me to serve the local people of the Dominican in so many varied and unplanned ways! I am constantly amazed that even now no two days are ever the same. Jesus promises us that he came to bring us Life in all its fullness (John 10v10) and that as we learn to love one another God's Joy will be complete in us (John 15 v 9-14). This is certainly my experience here in the DR.
Living a different life is fun, but it also isn't without its costs - not to be negative, but there are some things that are really hard about being in a different culture to your own. For the most part though, I am truly thankful for the opportunities that I have and the life I get to lead.
Sometimes living here is exhausting - today Ive taken the day away from the village, because the constant demand from everyone for attention and help wore me out this week. I've learnt though that when I feel worn down I have to take a day away and recharge. Im no use to anyone if I am exhausted. It can be hard to know who to help and how - it can be hard to know what help is really needed. It can be frustrating and exhausting - but then I remind myself of the situation of the people I am working with - people who struggle for their daily food, who struggle for everything. People who live on less than I spend on a snack. I will never know what it is to live in the poverty that they live in, I will never truly understand that - but I have a better idea than I used too. That teaches me not to judge people for making choices that I perceive to be unwise - not to be frustrated but also not to give up trying to help people make wise decisions.
Life is a big adventure, and Im loving the adventure that Im on. Im so thankful for good friends here in the DR, they make the adventure even more fun! I love my life here so much, although I do miss people from the UK and that can be hard, but with the wonders of skype and facebook the world isnt as big as it used to be!!
I just wonder, is God calling you to do something different? Not necessarily to move thousands of miles away to live on a small Caribbean island... but maybe to love someone that you struggle with? To be obedient to Him in some way? Its worth it! Its an amazing adventure, the life of faith!
So... reflections over, its time to get on with the next bit of the journey!!
God bless y'all for reading!!