I scroll through the pictures and smile at the memories.
It’s hard to believe that six weeks went by so quickly.
That the trip that I looked forward to, and dreaded at the same time, is over.
How odd, that at the moment when our plane tipped its nose into the air
and the rows of banana trees blurred into a green patch work quilt,
that I realized I was actually sorry to leave this place that has held so much pain.
These few weeks, while not unmixed with moments of desperate clinging to God,
were precious. Priceless.
The children and I spent 9 days at the adorable little “casita” while
Daniel and four other guys backpacked and boated back into the Mosquito Coast,
riding on trucks and dugout canoes and drug dealer boats (whew!).
They came back skinny and brown and whisker-faced but full of stories of God’s goodness and divine appointments.
Of getting lost on a canoe after dark, with a very incompetent motorist,
and shining their flashlights out over the dark water
only to see the glitter of countless crocodile eyes gleaming back at them.
Of meeting people hungry for the Word of God,
of a young man who has the calling of God to minister in those dark places.
Merry and I spent those days chatting with dear Naomi
and doing various painting and sewing projects.
It was fun to keep our hands busy while we shared hearts
and got to connect and experience church on a day to day basis.
It was special to be able to DO something for someone who was doing so much for me,
who was gently ministering to my heart in those little minutes of talking.
To take the paint and mix and swirl the colors, like God does in my life,
the bright moments next to the dark ones.
To make beauty from vials of paint unused.
Funny how we lived down there for several years,
but I never got the chance to know Naomi like I did on this visit.
That alone was worth the trip for me.
I am amazed how God takes His children through challenging times, all over the world,
and after facing unique situations, we can connect and relate in a very profound way.
Amazing, this thing of not always having the perfect way of saying things,
yet being completely understood.
The children had endless hours of fun,
romping through the yard,
swimming in the boat,
(Tirzah still dressed for church, Weston ever ready to don his swimming trunks…)
And Christmas day was spent with screams of laughter as they slid for hours down the water slide.
Who needs sledding when you have sun, water and soap?
In a coffee shop over the rim of a steaming mug and hearing, and understanding the pain of challenging relationships.
Of not really knowing the person before, but knowing so fully now, and loving.
Of listening, connecting so completely with the depth of struggle and longing for real church, real fellowship.
Of true heart connection.
Of sitting together in the salty spray of ocean breeze and feeling the exact things she was facing.
I have walked those very same steps, faltering and so uncertain, but now look back and see the value.
What a joy to be able to say, “It will be worth it. Just embrace it to the full, and allow the grace of God envelope you…”
(Weston and Jeffery were inseparable best buddies… )
I went down to this land of my weakness, of my dark moments,
of my utmost loss and was blown away by God’s overwhelming presence.
By this banner of love that presided over my every day, my every moment,
even in those flashes of remembering how dark it used to feel.
He did what I least expected Him to do, He allowed me to watch Him minister to hearts,
to be a listening ear, and to experience church in what used to be my desert of dry and thirsty land.
I realized this slow transformation in my own heart, from feeling so needy and unable to minister and touch lives…
That this overwhelming longing to bless was actually happening.
God took me back to my land of tears to taste the joy of His presence.
Naomi, Tizzy, Ruthie, thank you for those moments of church.
Of safety. Of honesty. And of letting me experience the beauty of Christ with you.
And to my Father, who gently takes me back to these painful places to remind me
that He does truly make beauty from ashes.