Something has felt funny to me since I arrived in the Dominican Republic a week and a half ago. I recognized this morning that this is the first time in a long while that I haven't had a built-in ministry focus to what I do every day. Even during preparation for this trip, it was stressed so much to our team that we are here for academic reasons and "to learn Spanish!" especially for these first 5 weeks. My life has been almost hectic at times during the last three years due to my involvement in ministry and at first this week seemed like a welcome break from that. However, I feel more every day that I miss that feeling of purpose in God's Kingdom. Something I will have to learn this semester is what it means to live in God's Kingdom daily regardless of my role in ministry. I have yet to have a conversation regarding God or anything spiritual with my host family - mainly due to my lack of vocabulary, but I really haven't tried. I have yet to intentionally encourage other students on the trip or my roommate. I have yet to identify someone older than me that I can learn from these few months. These things need to change.
I've been challenged over the last few months to have a relationship with God for His purposes, not for my own. As a student majoring in youth ministry, interning at a church, and mentoring high school girls there was a pressure I put on myself to gain knowledge from the Bible and prayer in order to apply it straight to those three situations. I've learned though, that no matter how much wisdom and knowledge I feel I am passing on to others, it will never be as effective as it could be had I first applied it in my own life. God teaches us things so we can learn for ourselves how to worship Him more AND to help others learn the same things. When I pass information straight from the Bible to another person, it has no chance to pass through and take root in my heart.
So these next few months will give me a chance to do two things: 1) Establish God's Word on my heart and 2) Learn to recognize opportunities to glorify His name through my day to day interactions with circumstances around me.
"The days are just packed" (to quote good ol' Calvin and Hobbes) with running early in the morning and literally filling my day with 5 hours of studying until class at 3. It's hard to carve out the time that needs to be set aside for God and others, but the early mornings are good for quiet time and the evenings become a great time to hang out with our family and get to know people from the church who come over to visit. Barbara and I receive our fair share of confused looks and laughs when we try to put together a sentence, but it's all in good fun, and our mama is very proud of what we have learned so far!
God bless, thanks for your support, I miss you all!