In all honesty, being a missionary isn't all flowers and moonlight. There are difficult days, days when I question what I'm doing here, days when I'd prefer to go back to a country that, though not my own, at least is one where I can get around easily because I know the language. Even my teenage ties to this beautiful country are not always enough to push away the frustrations when I'm trying to fit in as an adult.
The last couple of months have been particularly challenging. Interestingly enough, I have had several people come up to me and tell me that they see I am happy here, happier than when I first came more than a year ago and was figuring out life on my own. I can only attribute it to God working through my life because I know it's not because of me. Though there isn't one specific reason for my struggles, I think it primarily boils down to another bout of culture shock. I'm realizing how very little I really do know and how much I have to learn while stepping outside of what I consider to be the norm and accepting another way of life as being equally as valid as my own. I've always been a black-and-white person with an easily stricken conscience so this adapting is harder than I thought it would be.
Yesterday, I spent some time telling God how I really felt. I wrote, I cried, and I prayed out loud, thankful for a room with some privacy and that I didn't have to share a living space with a roommate so I could process the emotions. I finally went to sleep after 1 am, not having resolved my questions but too tired to work through them anymore. I reluctantly headed to work and a day filled with tasks and projects to accomplish.
After work was over, I pulled some supper things out of my mini fridge, threw them in my favourite carry bag, and trudged up the hill to my friend's place. Her house was home to me, I spent more time there than in my own room because I could play with the twins, cook, share a meal, or just enjoy drinking tea while chatting with her. My friend and her family were my family away from home and I was grateful for every moment I could spend with them.
We ate supper, the boys snacked on cucumbers, and then we bundled them up in jackets and an extra pair of pants to go watch the volleyball game. It was the second night of tournaments this week and their dad was playing on one of the teams. It was a fun evening, my friend and I had one boy each and they were generally well behaved. W sat on my lap quietly watching the ball fly across the net until he got tired and restless. My friend suggested I walk with him for a bit as it was past his bedtime and he was ready to go to sleep.
I rocked W while humming a little tune and walking up and down the court. It wasn't long before he was fast asleep, content in my arms as he held tightly to my top with his little hand. I covered him with a baby blanket and sat down to watch the rest of the game. All too soon it was over and we went home, putting the boys to bed, and then settling down with a cup of tea to chat.
When I returned to my quiet room, I realized that God had performed a miracle in my life today. He gave me two gifts to cheer my heart and remind me that even though I wasn't out there converting souls by the thousands, I was still exactly where He wanted me to be and serving Him in the best way I knew how. First, He brought a good friend and mentor by my office in the afternoon to sit and talk with me, reminiscing on how good God was to bring me here to Lebanon. The friend was the one who initiated the call for me to come and we marveled at God's perfect timing for not long after I had committed to coming, three additional calls opened up.
Then God gave me a relaxing evening spent helping with the twins, ending with the little one falling asleep while I held him. I am very thankful for the gift my friend has given me of trusting me to help her with her little ones and the time I spend with them fills my heart with joy. I don't do anything extraordinary. I just hold babies, feed them, sing songs to them, hold their hands while they take some unsteady steps, laugh with them, and hold them when they fall. I do my best to let them know they are loved, safe, and taken care of.
Maybe being a missionary isn't always about grandiose gestures. Maybe it is being faithful in the little tasks, or faithfully reflecting Jesus to the littlest ones. I don't have everything all figured out, or all the answers to my questions yet, but I'm thankful that my Father does. All He asks me to do is trust Him and wait on Him. Then even the darkest days will be filled with light because He will be there.