Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tomorrow's my Birthday

Today is May 9 and tomorrow I turn 35. I’m not at all certain where Time has gone. I know this is not a new phenomenon; people regularly stand in awe of how quickly hours, days and years pass. I number myself with the common (wo)man when I say, “Time flies.”

And it does, with wings so sleek and silent not a whisper of wind or rush of air was felt when Time flew by me. While one cannot feel her, she leaves her mark. A few lines around my eyes, several strands of gray and extra pounds around my tummy belie the fact that I am no longer 25. As does the settled down feeling I’ve found in life, the laughter that comes easily along with an honesty and vulnerability I did not know 10 years ago. Yes, Time leaves her mark, the most gratifying one etched deep in my soul where I hold tightly and lightly all I love and all that for which I hope.

One of the deepest etchings on my soul has always been my desire to serve on the missionfield. I attended Multnomah with the intention of living in some far away country. Each year we had missions week at Multnomah and each year everything in me would resound to the call to go…I remember being in tears when the missionaries who had spent most of their lives in Africa or India or South America would come down the center aisle, carrying the flag of the country in which they’d served, dressed in the traditional garb of the people and the place which had become their home. I envied their lives, I couldn’t wait to go.

For some reason, for many reasons, I never went. I was afraid, or I was hurting, or I was struggling and I just didn’t go. I made a couple short term trips over the years, but nothing permanent. Two years ago I was in Calcutta where I served for 4 months. It was the time of my life. I’ve never done anything physically harder and I’ve rarely had an experience I loved more. When I returned from India I the idea of returning haunted me, but something about going didn’t seem right.

Until now.

A couple months ago I heard this quote: She is a fool who does not return to the place of her last happiness. And I thought: where was I last happy? It was in India, serving Jesus as I served the poor. Suddenly, and I mean that quite literally because it was this sudden revelation type epiphany thing, I knew what I had to do. I recognized what I’d been meant to do all along. But timing, Time, can be a tricky thing, and while she carves away at us, she also softens us. In that moment, I was so soft…so tender to all I’d ever wanted, all I’d ever desired. And what else, or Who else could that be than the Lover of my Soul Himself who was with me whispering: go be happy.

I’ve applied to go on staff with Word Made Flesh and am hoping to move to Galati, Romania in the first part of next year (2008). Once in Galati I will live in community and learn language and culture in order to be sent by that community to Moldova where we are hoping (and when I say we I’m not yet sure who else will be a part of that team) but we are hoping to start a new field. 80% of Moldova’s population lives below the poverty line, making it the poorest nation in Europe. It also has the highest percentage per capita of human trafficking in the world. Typically women are trafficked for sex work to Turkey or Saudi Arabia and then picked up by immigration and sent back to Moldova, where there are no resources for them; no counseling, no homes, no jobs. I’d love to serve these women. I’m not certain how that will look, but I’m hoping that a community of Believers would develop where many and any would come to find healing and Life.

(If you are wondering why I am not returning to Calcutta it is quite simply because I don’t believe it would be physically wise to go. I was sick so much of the time, and it was so hard on my body, that I believe it wouldn’t be the wisest use of me to return to India).

And so, there it is. Time has done her work, softening and shaping me to this point where I feel as if I’m able to step into and live the life I was meant to live. I don’t remember the last time I was so excited and so hopeful about the future. It is amazing and I don’t know what I did to deserve such happiness, such joy. I am humbled and make this step with deliberate gratitude to Him who is doing more than I would have ever imagined.

I hope if you are reading this that you will pray for Moldova, for the Word Made Flesh community in Galati, Romania, and for me. The next couple of years will hold much change and challenge, deepening the etchings on my soul and lines around my eyes. Hopefully leaving me with the marks of a life well lived.

Moldova, landlocked between Romania and the Ukraine.


kristen said...

i can't describe how excited i am for you. looking at what you're learned and become passionate about it's clear that jesus has been preparing to use you to let women be whole again. you are beautiful.

susie said...

Happy Birthday April!!
You are a beautiful woman inside & out!
I am so thrilled to hear your lastest plans and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Beautiful words you have written, too... and oh so good to read.
love to you, susie

JamieB said...

Happy Birthday April!
I am so proud of you. I read your words and hear your heart. I think, "that is my sister."
I love you so much and am praying for you.

la femme elisabeth said...

We are so excited for you and for the opportunity to be involved and changed thru your experience as well. Happy Birthday, we love you. Hey, let's get a Motherload on me. :)

brooke said...

it's been a lot of years. i think the last time i saw you i was sharing your bed when beth and jon were married. kinda wierd.
anyway, thanks for those words. they perfectly describe my own feelings and longings. i needed to hear that.
brooke schlange (zalewski)

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