Thank you so much for your continued thoughts and prayers for us! We are so grateful for your partnership in this mission, and we feel you marching beside us. This week has had many ups and downs and yet God has held us strong with his mighty right hand through it all. I think he is taking us deeper in our experiences and interactions with the people here so we might know truly know His children and truly meet Him (read Matthew 25 – this is where we find Christ Himself!). I was sharing with another missionary yesterday what a gift it is to be able to do with work alongside Casey. We have always been confident in our different gifts, and so God continues to use us both in very different ways here. However, each day we are able to share the joys and pains of loving these people and come together for solidarity and strength. I am abundantly blessed to walk this path with Casey!
For me, this has been a week with a broken heart and some shed tears. It actually didn’t even begin in a ministry setting, but as I woke up on Easter morning. For some reason that morning I woke up and my heart was heavy for my friends in the health clinic and those in my HIV support group. I wondered how Zolilie was feeling and if he was able to sleep with his cough from tuberculosis. I thought about Donovan who has been struggling with sickness related to HIV and who feels abandoned and alone even in his own home. All day I couldn’t get them off my mind. What was strange was that I didn’t feel like God was leading me to visit with them, although we did take hot cross buns to one woman in my HIV group and met her family. I just felt like the Lord wanted to me sit with the sadness, grieve over their pain, and lift them up in prayer. So that is what I did, and it took me down to a heartbreaking place. Finally by Tuesday night I had a complete breakdown before Casey and God, because it’s just not fair! It’s one thing to see a movie or read a book with characters suffering through such pain, but it brings it to a new level of anguish when the people in torment are your friends. There are really no answers to this sorrow, but I knew that God was present. A friend reminded me the next day that God too grieves over their pain and our tears are His.
Someone passed this quote on to me recently, it’s from a song by Jeff Buckley called “Hallelujah”
“Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and broken hallelujah”
Hallelujah is a word we find in the Bible that is used to express joy or praise. This song lyric stings me because I think that making praise to God does not always mean that we are doing it with emotional feelings of happiness. Certainly love is ultimately victorious as the war has been won by our great God, but the battle rages on today and sometimes we praise even in the midst of great grief and pain. I don’t know how you do mission work without the eternal hope of Jesus Christ, because things can seem so hopeless sometimes in the here and now. But I praise God because I know there is more, and I work to ‘forcefully advance the kingdom’ as it says in the gospel of Matthew while I am on this side of heaven.
Lastly, I am encouraged so much by all of your comments of the blog, but my friend Allison Matlack, who commented yesterday, particularly encouraged me. She ended with a quote from Gandhi that says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I echo her thoughtful sentiments. We ALL have a place to reach out and help. We ALL can be a part of bringing the kingdom here on this earth, and make the simple prayer of “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” a true reality. I pray that we all are a part of this prayer. I feel overjoyed with the friendships we have made here and those that continue to grow and deepen at home. I pray blessings on all of you as we journey together.