Sunday, February 22, 2009

15 years later

On Saturday, I went to Panera to meet up with a group of people who I met online. This group of people meet once a week with the sole purpose of practicing Spanish. A group of 10-20 people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of Spanish- from native speakers to beginners- meet every week to sit in Panera and chitchat in Spanish. It is a great time of practice for me. However this week (only my second week with this group) I didn't get much practice time.

Not 2 minutes after I arrived, I had someone tap me on my shoulder. When I turned around, there were 2 women standing there that I recognized (surprisingly) immediately- 2 girls from my graduating class in high school.

I haven't seen them since high school graduation 15 years ago (boy that makes me feel old!). I sat with them and we talked about what has gone on over the past several years. While we were not close friends in high school, it was nice to talk with them and see where God has taken them over the last 15 years.

God has different plans for each of us- nobody's plan is the same. He knows where we are going and how we are going to get there. He knew 15 years ago that I would be where I am now and He knows where I will be 15 years from now. I am glad He has the plan all figured out. As I try to discern where He wants me to go, I take comfort in knowing that He already has it all worked out for me. All I have to do is trust Him that He will take me down the path that He has already planned out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back in the USA

This past Saturday, after many heartfelt goodbyes, I returned to the United States. Before leaving, many of my friends gave me a goodbye party. It was great to be able to spend time with the people who really helped me to survive and thrive in Maracaibo, and it was sad to say goodbye.

After traveling all day, I arrived in chilly Ohio. For the people in Ohio, it feels like a heat wave. For me, accustomed to the heat of Maracaibo, it feels frigid.

I spent a few days getting settled back in and seeing my family. It is strange being back in Ohio- back to the way of life I thought was "normal" for the first 30 years of my life.

What's next? Well, now I seek God's Will for my life in this next stage of life. I know He has the plan all figured out. I just have to wait until He let's me see the outline.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Goodbye Filadelfia

Goodbyes are always hard, but it is a part of a missionary's life. Today was another day of goodbyes. Today was my last day in Filadelfia Church- at least until God brings me back to Venezuela.

I attended all 4 church services today (yes, I heard the sermon 4 times- and can probably say it back to you without missing anything). At the end of each service, the pastor called me up on stage to say goodbye and pray for me. I was given flowers and a gift- a book of the history of Maracaibo with pictures! I then had many many people from the church come up to give me a hug and wish me goodbye. Most of these people I do not know (although I have seen many of them throughout my time here). They all expressed their gratitude for the time I have spent to serve God in their church and wished me a good trip and a quick return.

During the last service, the pastor had Arturo, as missions coordinator, give me a goodbye greeting. He spoke about how I have developed over this past year. When I arrived in Venezuela last year, I did not understand much of what the people were saying. The culture was completely foreign to me. The people here are more outgoing and they talk quickly and loudly. I had asked him several times if the people were fighting- but no, they were just talking. He mentioned this today, not only to mention that my spanish is better but to show that I have grown more in understanding the people and culture that God has sent me to. I will truly miss everyone here.