So yesterday was another "off" day for me (why do they seem to be coming more frequently all of a sudden). I got up and out of bed, but I don't think I actually woke up until almost 3:30 in the afternoon (about the time I woke up from the nap I ended up taking because I just couldn't concentrate on anything). I don't know why I was feeling so out of it all day...I slept great the night before.... and minus the abrupt awakening from our unannounced house-clearner, I had no reason to feel tired when I got up. But I did.
Tuesdays I always go to bible study, which as everything in life has it's great sides and some drawbacks, so I went there, left as quickly as possible and then came home to work on some lesson plans I wanted to get done before my "amiga" arrived. Thankfully when she got here, she was in talkative mood and so we just reclined on the couches for over an hour sharing our hearts together (well more like she shared, and I listened). I felt so privileged that she would share so much of herself with me, especially when I was sitting there holding back things that I thought might not make me look so good (considering in this context I am the missionary). After that we all (that is, all of us who live in the house) went to "gringo" night for dinner (basically it's a time for all the ex-pats to gather together once a week and eat food from home) and came home to play games.
Yet in the midst of all that I did, I kept feeling this running thread of self-abusive thoughts that told me how ridiculous I am for feeling "off" on a day with so many blessings. I know I am blessed. I know the very fact that I get to spend my days on the missions field, sharing my relationship with God and hopefully leading people closer to him, is a privilege. Most days I go to bed rejoicing in that fact.... yet some days I wonder if I am really doing anything, if I am actually making a difference or if I am only fooling myself in order to justify why I felt "called" here in the first spot.
I think over the last two years, I have come to believe that "extranjeros" can set an example for the believers and unbelievers in a new culture, but it's really the "locals" who can make the difference. I can talk until I am blue in the face about what God has done for me. I can let the light shine out of me in all that I do, but I'm always going to be an "outsider" who doesn't fully understand where my friends and neighbors are coming from. Because of that, in some ways, I feel like there is always going to be a limit to what I can do (although the Christian response here would be..."But thank God there is no limit to what He can do through me!"). Now I'm not saying that I can't do anything, please don't miss understand me. I am just saying it seems more powerful for the "locals" I know to connect and learn from someone who has been where they are and understands the life they have lived. I think that's true of everyone in the world, no matter where they live. So that brings me back to wondering, what am I really doing here...what have my two years here been about (besides what God has done in me)?
I have been told that had I not been here it's possible the children's ministry we started in Onakapak would not have happened. I guess in some ways that's true, but even in that I wonder what have we done other than teach these kids stories about God and verses from His word (as I'm not sure how many of them have moved from these lessons being stories to the reality that this is their God). I am also getting ready to start a small discipleship group with about 11 of the kids there (with the help of my "amiga") but in many ways I wonder if this is all coming too little to late.
Then there's the relationships I formed with so many of the youth back in Saraguro. Of course I am fun and interesting to hang out with, because I am different and I can teach you English, but have I really made an impact on any of their lives for the kingdom? Have I shown them the reality of God in a persons life, day after day? I hope so.... but I don't know. Even when I think about the kids I worked with at the Compassion program, or the kids I work with here at both the Feria Libre and the church Bible Club, I can't help but wonder am I really showing them Jesus, am I really teaching them something beyond a story?
And maybe these are just the questions you ask when you're coming to the end of something. Maybe you always look back over your time somewhere and wonder if it was all worth it (again the Christian answer here would be, if I did it out of obedience to God then it will always be worth it). I have less than two months here in Ecuador. I plan to give all of myself to what I am doing...even on the "off" days or the days I have to fake it with the world. Yet my prayer would be that God would take my meager offerings and transform them into something so much more life giving! I pray that He would use my obedience in a way that really changes other peoples lives. And I ask that even when I don't feel like I am making any difference, that He would make a difference thru me. That's my hope and that's my prayer...Amen.