Jake leaves for Bolivia today. He’ll be there a month, leading a service team at Camp Kewiña.
Watching him get ready has reminded me of the first time we and our three little girlies went to Cochabamba.
It was my dream-come-true, to be a missionary.
I was supposed to be happy.
But the details and decisions and goodbyes had wearied me, weighed me down, and the very first week in Coch was hard.
I felt so foreign. (Of course.) And ignorant. (Well, yeah.) And fearful and inadequate. (No surprise.)
That was the year when habitual journal-keeping became cemented as my thing.
For me, a journal is my place to process and to pray.
It is where I thank God for all the wonderful parts of my life.
It’s where I moan to Him about all the problems of the world, the problems in our home, and the problems in my heart.
It’s where I record what He ‘says’ to me through His Word.
I keep a journal so I won’t forget.
Just so you know, my journals are private.
That way I can be severely honest.
My first year in Bolivia I journaled ‘severely honestly’ a lot.
Besides early morning writing times, every now and then, I would go to a city park with my Bible and notebook.
One day – it was after we’d lived in Bolivia for about a year – I rode my bike across town to a park in front of a large church.
I enjoyed sitting there, people-watching and reading and writing. The time went by fast; I needed to leave so I put my books in the basket behind the seat and peddled home.
As I parked my bike at the house, I reached into my basket, and … what?
My Bible was there, but my journal? Where was it?
Oh, no! It must have bounced out.
I got back on my bike and retraced the route, but, sad . . . I never saw that fat little notebook again.
Oh, man, I felt bad! One of the most interesting and important years of my life was documented in that notebook . . . all lost!
And mercy me, what if someone who knew English, found it and read it?!?
Then I remembered.
A few weeks before I had typed excerpts from each month of that first year for an article for our mission magazine.
It was titled, “Are You Still With Me, God? Journal Thoughts of a First-year Missionary.”
Okay, Sarah. All is not lost. I consoled myself and thanked the Lord loudly.
Last night I enjoyed re-reading that article, written by my 33-year-old self.
I wrote: “I feel so grateful to You, God, for all You’ve done for us. We came to Bolivia to bring spiritual hope and change, but you’ve used Bolivians to show us spiritual hope, to change us. We’ve made it through our first year, and we are different, thanks to You.”
Most missionaries — and most of us as 33-y.o. idealists — learn this: We go ‘out’ to save the world, and we find it’s us that need saving.
God wants to change and grow me, to prepare me for the good works He has prepared for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
I am excited for Jake, on the verge of some good works that God has prepared for him to do.
I look forward to hearing the stories.
And maybe I’ll write them in my journal so we won’t forget.