Tommy began to share in the evening session missionary stories from other parts of the world where Beltway teams had gone. While he was sharing a fascinating story about Trinidad and Tobago, there was a part where he was talking about this barking dog, which he copied to better relate his point. I very calmly translated "and the dog barked just like the pastor just did." I then waited for Tommy to continue. He, however, did not know that I was not going to bark so he waited. Now, let me please point out that sounds do not have to be translated considering that there is no translation! I don't translate sounds, or so I thought. The congregation caught on to the fact that Tommy was waiting for me to bark and that I didn't want to. So they began to giggle. I realized at this point that I had to do it, so I swallowed my pride and did my best to copy Tommy. Everyone roared with laughter and I am pretty sure that my face turned a very deep shade of red. It wasn't over though. The barking dog came back and as soon as Tommy copied the dog. Everyone began laughing and calling out encouragements for me to copy Tommy, this time I just barked without pausing. We repeated this a few more times. After translating for three hours that night, I was dead tired. The whole trip passed somewhat in a blur and I didn't have a lot of time to process what we did. When one of the team members asked me what I thought about what we were doing one evening, I just looked tiredly at them and said, "I don't know what I think because I have only been thinking everyone else's thoughts for the last 5 days". I am making this point for a reason, First, because I am just now processing what God has done in my life over the summer. And finally to illustrate the point that I had decided something for myself (that I was not going to translate sounds) and that it required me to change my plans.
I flew directly from Peru to Ecuador. I had been anxiously awaiting this day for over a year. Once through immigration and customs, I walked through the sliding doors and immediately saw my friends, Cira, Darren, Mafer, Mercedes, Emily and Michaela. I think it was seeing Emily and Michaela Facanha, my team leader's two youngest daughters, that caused my heart to overflow. This was the first time in my life that I have cried because I was so happy. The month passed quickly. I was able to connect up with the youth from Santay Island (one of my previous ministries), work in a Medical clinic in Tenta, Ecuador, and listen to my team member's hearts. At first it was a little strange because I was coming back with a completely different role than what I had before, but soon I was at home again. Roberto, my team leader, looked over at me at one point and said "Tabitha, sometimes it feels like you never left." When I did leave I was not as sad as the previous time. It seems like my heart finally understood that these friends and practically family are part of my heart and always will be. It doesn't matter where I am living or what my role is, they are part of me.
This all brings me to the spinning. Many of you will remember the illustration of God as the potter and us as the clay (Jeremiah 18). Recently someone said over me, "Tabitha, you are the clay. And what does the clay do? It spins. God molds." This began to hit home. See something happened back at the beginning of June that I was not expecting and it caused me to start to ask God, does He really want me to go back to Ecuador or was that my plan. Many of you might be thinking that I am weak and wishywashy to arrive back to the USA and then be thinking that I possibly shouldn't go back. Previous to June, I had not even considered it. God has been gently reminding me that He is the potter and I am the clay. When I consider what it means to just spin, it makes me think of control. Who has the control? Not me. Who decides how the clay will turn out? Not me. What does it require of me? Complete surrender. What is complete surrender? Surely giving up my country, my language, my culture, my customs, and my things is enough, right? You would think that giving up all these things would make surrender all the more automatic, but I have realized something, my pride wants to say that it is enough. God is telling me something else. He is telling me that He wants everything, not just my willingness to give up possessions, but my studies, my marital status, my career, my thoughts, my sins, my good works, my dreams and my plans. It means everything. Sounds like I will be left with nothing right? Do I really believe the promise, "but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." The eight previous verses talk about our plans in life. Do I dare trust God with Ecuador? Yes, I do. Even right now my heart is at peace. I do not know what the future brings, but I do know that God holds it in His hands and He will direct my paths. I do not know what to plan for other than to seek His face everyday. I want to spin.
|A Mototaxi in Peru|
|Medical Clinic in Tenta, Francine (New Zealand), Tabitha (USA), Dr. Diego (Ecuador), Candy (Ecuador)|
|Mom and Dad in Tenta, Ecuador|
|Yes, I did swim in the Guayas River, tradition...|
|My Ecuadorian family (minus three), Michaela, Sebastian, and Emily|