I have had these thoughts in my head but have struggled to make sense of them and put them into words. I struggle with this blog. I want to be honest and transparent about missions. Sometimes though, it is hard to find a balance of being honest about the difficulties without sounding like I am complaining. Other times, it is hard to find the balance between being excited about life here and what God is doing, without sounding sickly sweet or "super-spiritual". My biggest prayer is that God will somehow use something I say to encourage someone, even in just a small way. I don't want people to see me, or our family, or even Togo necessarily. With ALL my heart, I want people to read my words and see Jesus.
So I couldn't decide to post this or not. I am honestly nervous to push "publish". But then felt led to. So here goes.
These last few weeks have been hard. Life here is never easy, but I wouldn't say things have been hard until recently. We have all been sick. First, I was on bedrest for a month. Then Eliza was really sick with a 104-105 temp, that we never did figure out the cause. Then malaria for Olivia, then I developed a bad kidney infection and was in bed with IVs and IV meds. Then we all got an amoeba that really knocked us down.
So I really struggled with being here. I asked God lots of questions. Not in a demanding, accusatory way. But with a broken heart, humbly seeking what the Lord wanted of me. Asking God what He wanted me to learn about Him through all this.
As I held Eliza in the night as she burned with fever, talked out incoherently, and even talked about seeing Heaven, and as Olivia vomitted violently from Malaria, I found myself asking the question, "Lord what are we doing here?" As I laid in the bed at night shivering from fever while John tried to wrap me in blankets, I prayed asking the Lord to keep the baby I am carrying safe. And I begged the Lord not to require this of us. As Eliza wretched and asked, "Is there nothing else the Drs can do to help us?", my heart broke. As the kids little ribs became more evident as they lost weight, I struggled. As I watched my IV fluids slowly drip and looked at the floor where all three kids were lying sick, I asked the Lord, "Are we doing the right thing by bringing our kids here?". It is one thing to be here and be sick from something you get by being here (like Malaria or an amoeba) but to see your kids so sick and suffering from a decision that John and I made...that takes thing to a whole different level. It was hard.
I tried so hard to be strong and keep it all together. One of the other missionaries commented on how well I have handled everything, that I have been a rock. But on the inside I thought, "I've been more like a pebble!" I have cried in frustration. Cried out of guilt for John having to do everything to care of all of us while he was even sick. And I have cried in pure exhaustion.
I don't say all of this to sensationalize or dramatize things. I know people are going through much worse storms that we have just gone through. I just say all this that I have struggled...that missionaries struggle. We are not super-Christians. We are not unfailing. We are not above trials. We are not unshakeable. We doubt. We ask. We question. We get angry. We hurt and we cry. We get discouraged.
But in the midst of the trials and storms, we stay centered on one thing- the promise that the same God that led us here, will keep us here.
The promise that any trial, big or small, that He allows into our lives will make us more like HIM. And isn't that the ultimate goal of every Christian, to be MORE like Him.
The promise that as I craddled the baby in my womb praying for protection, that I was in fact craddled in the very arms of my Father!
The promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.
The promise that He will sustain us, strenthgen us and lift us up!
So I don't know what you are facing. What hurt, or disappointment the Lord has brought into your life. What storm you are wearily navigating, just trying to stay afloat. What thing you are struggling with. But I do know that if you come to Him with your questions in the night, He will gently answer and whisper, "I am here. I will strengthen you. I will hold you. I will carry you. And I will lift you from this trial!"