Thank You…

My last entry ended my 9-post-series on my time in Mexico last summer. It has been a wonderful time of sharing for me in which I felt encouraged, and was able to cherish many lovely memories. Thank you all for being a part of that! As I wrote, the culture shock from my trip was quite painful and releasing my thoughts and reading your encouraging comments on them has been a great help to me.

As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens a friend.

Proverbs 27:17

THANK YOU!!!

Part 3: Brimming Over

This is the third part of a series about my travels in Mexico last summer,  a trip that God used to teach me many lessons in love, humility, beauty, and wealth. If you missed the first two parts, click here.

A girl in bright pink shorts with braided hair and a sun-burned face, collecting garbage in a big, black bag on a mountainside full of people, waving “Hola” and introducing herself and asking others their names in broken Spanish and telling them that they or something about them is “bonita” must be a laughable sight. After all, the people around her–mostly Mexicans couldn’t help but giggle at her strange friendliness or looks. And when the girl thinks on the situation now, seven months later, she laughs aloud and recalls fondly. But it doesn’t matter to her that she made a fool of herself because she had been filled so full that she was unquenchable, she was crammed to the top, she was brimming over.

That girl was me on my third day in Mexico. It was my first YWAM outreach, the first time that I had a Spanish conversation with someone who didn’t speak English, the first time that my hair was a mess, my face was bright red and I wore geeky shorts and didn’t care, the first time I told a stranger that I loved them…the first time that my cup spilled over.

It was a day of many firsts, of many laughs, of joy after pain. It was the day that I put my fears asside and replaced them with boldness. It was a time that I threw my insecurity away and adopted confidence. It was a moment and a place that I was just myself and no one else. I didn’t worry about what others thought or that I wasn’t good enough–I just did what I could do whether it was in my comfort zone or not, and because of that and the God that made me, I overflowed that day.

Two of my first Mexican amigas and me.

I met new friends who did not speak a single syllable in English. I told one of these friends that I liked her purse and asked her if she had made it (I actually have no idea how I did this!) I told a girl that I loved her and watched her face break into a smile. I saw the surprised but happy toothless grin of a woman when I told her that she was bonita. I played futbol (soccer) for the first time in a long time, without worrying about how unathletic I was. I danced like no one was watching me. I picked up garbage in the hot, Mexican sun with two girls and I smiled and laughed instead of complaining. I was swarmed with little girls and mothers who wanted the hair clips and stickers that I had. I watched two young girls faces explode with happiness when I gave them two simple things–a mirror and a comb. I was brimming over by the simplest, most ordinary but ever wonderful things of life.

When people ask me about Mexico I think of this day and all of the fun that I had. I try to re-tell it the way I saw and loved it but it never works. I always just get blank looks or smiles that don’t understand. It’s not the peoples fault or anyone’s really, it’s just that sometimes things are impossible to understand without the experience and I guess the feeling over being overflowed in love is just that kind of one. But that’s OK with me because God has given me a memory and a time in which I spilled over in abundance with simple joys, with new friends and beautiful smiles…with love I overflowed.

Part 2: Filled

This is the second part of a series about my travels in Mexico last summer,  a trip that God used to teach me many lessons in love, humility, beauty, and wealth. If you missed Part 1, click here.

It was 6:45 AM and I sat in a corner of the YWAM dining hall, with a cup of tea steeping on the table before me. I had just awoken after the worst night of my life. After my youth leader talked to me, she finally convinced me to go downstairs. Pretty soon after that we had chapel, which was good…until we started to sing, that is. At YWAM they played loud, crazy music that I wasn’t used to and even worse than that — they danced, something I was not very comfortable with. Soon, I couldn’t take it any more and I just started to cry. I tried to stop myself but the tears kept flowing…so I went up to my room and got ready for bed. I couldn’t sleep though for I was too hot inside of my sleeping bag and the evil thoughts kept churning in my head. Things only got worse when my roommates got back and were chatting happily. It seemed like forever until they stopped and turned out the lights. But even then I couldn’t sleep and when I did, I still woke up empty, for the sleep could not fill me.

I sipped my now ready tea. “Yuck!” I thought, making a disgusted face. “It must be that powdered cream.” I continued to sip my tea, trying to get used to the taste. But no matter what I did, the tea did not cleanse my emptiness, the flavoured water with the powdered cream could not fill me.

“Can I sit here?” I looked up to see Matt, my youth pastor, looking down at me, a cup of coffee with the same disgusting powdered cream in his hand.

“Sure.” I replied, trying to smile. Instead, I felt the tears coming so I looked out the window where a dog wandered aimlessly and a boy helped his father put up a fence.

“The worship is sure different here than it is at church.” Matt finally said after a long silence.

I nodded. Again, the tears clouded my eyes for his words, no matter how loving or kindly intended, could not fill me either.

Breakfast, of which I scraped half of into the garbage, was served shortly thereafter. But neither it nor the steady companionship of friends filled my empty heart. My feelings were the same as they had been the previous day and I was more confused than ever.

“Elizabeth, we need to get you a devotions book. We have chapel at eight.” Matt said to me, as I returned to our table from the garbage can.

“Ok.” I replied. I gulped. His words reminded me that I had skipped out on my own devotions in Acts this morning.

Once I had the book, I settled comfortably (or rather, uncomfortably but as nicely as you can when you are on a creaky top bunk) with it, a pen and my bible. The devotional instructed me to read first Joshua so I flipped to it in the little travel bible that my mom had given me the night before I left. Before starting I said one thing to God: “Please Lord, I’m here for a reason. Show me that as I read. Fill me again.”

If I hadn’t already believed in God I would have started at that moment. No sooner had I said this prayer and turned to Joshua, I was starting to feel better. Though nothing “earth shattering” is said for the first eight verses, just reading God’s word made me relax and feel comforted. And then I read it! The verse that changed me! The passage that showed me what I was to do! The verse that filled me!

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged: for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Joshua 1:9

Suddenly, I knew that God was indeed with me and that He really did have a purpose for me in Mexico. My homesickness, my pain, my tears, my emptiness all disappeared. With that verse God threw them into the darkness, not to be seen again for that trip and replaced them with His heavenly touch, He filled my heart up again. And although I was only at the beginning of my journey in Mexico, and despite the fact that many hard things were up ahead, I was filled in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and in that I had confidence, reassurance, and hope. I would not be discouraged or terrified: I would be strong and courageous for I was filled.