Well, I’m back. Almost two weeks, and American life already feels almost completely normal. I had no idea we humans were so adaptable. Or maybe it’s just me.
Here I am, in Waco, Tx, back to the schooltime routine of driving, cleaning my room, spending money, working, speaking English with everyone, and being in a thriving, established church. And it couldn’t feel more right.
I know that I’m right in the center of God’s will being at home. I could have stayed in Mongolia longer. But it would have been disobedience. God has definitely called me to be here in Waco in this season of my life. I’m right where I need to be, and honestly, where I want to be. I don’t want to be outside of God’s will. There’s no safety, assurance, or satisfaction there.
Before continuing, I feel that it’s appropriate considering the content of this blog post that you check out this new record by Kim Walker-Smith and her husband Skyler. I’ve been listening to it a ton since getting home and it is quite fitting.
The end of our trip came quickly and succinctly. We had a beautiful final team time with the Burr family (from Christ Fellowship in FW, they led the training school in Mongolia all summer), our last day at church, a goodbye party, and then a final cleaning session before moving out of our apartment.
The goodbye party was epic. We hosted it with a big budget, invited everyone we could, and had tons of people at our house. As we met toward the end, I felt like God said we had exactly 100 people there- which was the exact number we were believing for all summer! Later on I found out Ben Moss was counting and lost count at around 80 when he couldn’t see any further. Seriously, tons of people. An amazing confirmation that God will always fulfill his own vision and dream.
There were a surprising amount of people at the party we had never met before. A good 15-20 people were randomly invited by Mongolian friends and ended up in the middle of an intense worship session! It was powerful and thick with God’s presence. A couple Mongolians who had met Jesus over the summer shared their testimonies. Ben Moss, Hannah Franzen, Josh Crosslin, and Brandon Seibert all shared extremely moving words to sum up and reflect on the best summer of our lives. Then we worshiped with everything we had one last time. Several of our less consistent friends were deeply impacted in ways we had been praying for. Several unbelievers received prophetic words that blew their minds and encouraged their hearts. So cool.
After the party and the tears and the endless pictures and goodbyes, we got to cleaning. It took a while but we moved out of Enoch’s Pad once and for all. I’m gonna miss that place so much.
I’m super thankful I got to connect with Brandon before I left. We had lunch and spent time together the last 24 hours I was in UB and it was a great end to the trip for me. Saying bye to Brandon at the airport was VERY WEIRD. But as I boarded my flight out of Mongolia, I remembered that it’s only a season!
Since getting home I’ve only done a few things. I’ve visited home (so refreshing), gotten my room and belongings in order, reconnected with most of my friends, and jumped fully into this next season. There are a lot of little things I’m working on; lots of projects for World Mandate and preparation for this next schoolyear. Still, the biggest things remain uncertain- my job, my band Glenmerle, and what Antioch Discipleship School will be like.
ADS will start Monday, so that’s not remaining a mystery much longer. And my job and band stuff will surely fall into place soon. But the most important challenge facing me in everything I do is living out the lifestyle I learned in Mongolia.
Reflecting On This Summer
I left the USA excited for a cross-cultural experience, stoked for the gospel opportunities, expectant for God-encounters, thrilled about simply being in ‘the nations’, and relieved to get out of Waco and everything it had come to represent in a long and arduous time. I had been in Israel a few weeks prior, and still had the sight of Jerusalem in my eyes as I turned west and boarded a plane for Asia.
There is nothing more exhilarating than following Jesus into another country with no expectations or plans other than staying close by the Shepherd. And after becoming acclimated to this new place, this new language, these new people that had once been foreign but now had become friends; I found God in a way I forgot was possible.
He became my love again. I mean, really. He became all-sufficient again. He became the number one. The best one. He planted a seed inside of me that I, even now, cannot stop from growing. His relentless love was undaunted by cold times, days where I struggled to turn my heart towards him at all. And at the end of a summer with Jesus, I have found my hope anchored more deeply in Christ alone than it has been in longer than I can remember.
I learned that obedience is always best, whether I understand or not. So often I would have a plan or something I wanted to do that seemed good, but I would feel like God was saying to do something else. In the event I chose my own plan, it never quite worked (the store would be closed, the person wouldn’t show up, it would start raining outside, etc). But every time I obeyed what God said, things worked out strangely well.
Early on, it was hard for me to obey God- or to do much of anything good, honestly. I was comparing myself to others on the team, people back home, people in the church, and I constantly felt less-than. In my confusion, I believed I was too far gone for God to set me straight without a miracle or crazy encounter with him. Yet He told me that he could change me with a single word. And He did. He invited me into His inner circle and told me that He was perfectly pleased with me how I am. I don’t have to behave like other people, have other people’s gifts, or live someone else’s life. Actually, He is proud of me when I’m completely myself, obeying Him…even if it feels unimpressive in the moment.
I also learned what rest and life are: Jesus. There is no rest or refreshment apart from Christ. There is no life outside of Christ. These truths have gone deep into my soul. And now I know that to ‘do something refreshing’ cannot be accomplished without Christ or without abiding in Him, according to Him. If it is, it will lack the very thing that makes it refreshing in the first place. And life is Christ also- life is something deeper than emotion and more profound in thought, and I have truly discovered that it is Christ himself. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
God stirred hunger deeply inside of me too. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so desperate for more of God, so thirsty for any bit of scripture or worship I find. It’s become more of a treasure to me than it has been in a while. I pray this only increases as I begin the discipleship school!
At the end of the day, what’s changed is my perception of God. It has increased: closer now to reality than before. And you know what? Apart from everything else, that is enough. I know God more. And it was all worth it.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalm 63:1-4, ESV)
So here, on the other side of the world, I bring this blog series to its close. Thank you for keeping up with me. I hope you were blessed, envisioned, and encouraged by the stories I got to live in while in Mongolia. God is doing something incredible on that side of the world, and I shamelessly propose that you go and be a part of it sometime. I myself hope to do it again soon, as I continue to follow the Shepherd wherever he takes me on this wild adventure…