I can barely believe that I am getting on a plane tomorrow. How did this happen? Have I really been in Cameroon for a whole three months? I am so surprised and humbled and grateful for how my experience here turned out. It has been absolutely AMAZING! The beginning of this journey was hard. It was very very hard. For those of you who don’t know I had a very difficult experience before coming here and so I came here to get healed up. I came here feeling like the world’s worst missionary, the world’s worst mother, and the world’s worst person. When I woke up the first morning I felt as though depression was lying in bed next to me and we had just had a wild night together. I felt hungover from drinking too much sadness and my body was sore from giving it up to depression a few too many times last night. I opened my eyes and everything was quiet. No loud giggles coming from downstairs, no little voice yelling “Mamaaaaa!! Time for teaaaaa!!!” The silence was piercing and gave me a headache. I decided that maybe a nice cup of coffee would make me feel better but I tried to get up and make one and loneliness pinned me back down to the bed. Why is my face wet? Am I really still crying? My eyes hurt like hell. Maybe coffee’s not strong enough today. Is 8am too early for vodka?
I know what you are thinking because I was thinking the same thing. I am a Christian. I love Jesus! I am not supposed to get depressed! I am a missionary for crying out loud. I have to walk around smiling and telling everyone about how amazing God is. I’m supposed to tell them about the joy He gives and how beautiful He makes our lives when we surrender them to Him. How can I do that with swollen eyes, vodka breath, and my new friend Depression’s arm constantly wrapped around my neck? Maybe I should just go back to sleep….
For the first few days I really tried to deny what I was going through because it didn’t seem Christian-like. I prayed it away, repeated scripture to myself, worshipped through it- all the things we are taught to do in these situations. But after I finished doing those things the truth is: I was still depressed. Then one morning I was sitting with one of my friends and she asked me how I was doing and I answered all of the right religious answers. “The joy of the Lord is my strength, I am not sad I am full of the joy of the Lord, I choose joy today etc etc…” She then looked at me a bit strange and told me that I needed to allow myself to feel what I was really feeling, but just don’t stay there. She told me that I was like a soldier that had just gotten his arm blown off in a war but is standing and looking everyone in the face smiling and saying “no, no, no, I’m totally fine”, meanwhile blood is gushing everywhere and I’m missing a limb. I realized that she was right and made the dangerous decision to feel what I was feeling, but rest in Jesus, and trust that He would not allow me to stay there. A flood of feelings came and they hurt. I missed the girls a lot and I was grieving the loss of what our lives together used to be like. I felt disappointed by God and by people. I felt like all of my dreams had come crashing down and that I was a failure. I felt responsible for not being able to give the girls the kind of life I think they deserve. I felt ashamed, guilty, lonely, and sad….. but I didn’t stay there.
I am writing this blog in hopes that someone who is going through what I went through will read this and be encouraged. As the days and weeks passed God began to gently caress all the yuckynesss away- the darkness, the bad thoughts, the overwhelming emotions. His light began to overcome the darkness and I began to see things clearly again. Then when I decided to repeat scripture to myself or worship through the bad feelings it wasn’t out of aggression and force. It was like healing balm and came from a place of rest in Him. Before I knew it I was waking up with tears streaming down my face, but not because I was sad. It was because I couldn’t believe that I was so so happy again and it felt so good!
From there it only got better. As my heart and my mind began to be healed by His love and His truth He placed me in an amazing community of lovers here and I began to have such an amazing time. I have truly gained another family here in Cameroon that I love very much. A local church called Grace Chapel welcomed me and loved on me and honored me as if I had been here for years. It was so humbling. I have matured more spiritually here than I had since Harvest School. I feel so filled up and supported. I really do feel that all of heaven is backing me up, as well as people here and all over the world who pray for me, encourage me and support me in who I am and what I do. I feel so free from the pressure to be a perfect missionary or a perfect Christian or a perfect mother or a perfect anything. That is a standard that I just can’t measure up to. But what I can do is be only who God gives me grace to be. And I can’t even do that by myself. I need the body of Christ, people like you and people like the ones I’ve met here. We are one body and we cannot function independent of one another. I used to be a very independent person so this is a huge revelation for me and one I will carry with me as I enter into this new season of my life. “Christian girl rehab” aka my season of rest and healing alone is coming to an end tomorrow. However, I pray that even as I step back into working I do so from a place of rest and constantly pursue new levels of healing.
With that said, here is an update on where I will be and what I’ll be doing the next few months:
KENYA– In just two short days I will be reuniting with my daughters in Kenya! We have been apart for over three months and I could not be more excited!! THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everyone who has donated toward our Christmas this year. I am very excited for our time together, especially the holidays. I will be enjoying time with them until they head back to boarding school in early January.
SOUTH AFRICA– I will be spending about 9 days in South Africa next month because I am a bridesmaid in one of my really good friends’ weddings there J
ETHIOPIA– I will be making a few trips to Ethiopia over the next few months (beginning tomorrow!) as I continue to work alongside and serve other missionaries and local organizations there who are working to rescue, rehabilitate, and reintegrate as many of the 150,00 women and child prostitutes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as God allows
AMERICA– I plan to take a short trip (will come back again for longer this summer) home in January! The tentative dates are Jan 9th-Feb 11th