Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The past 3 or so weeks have been a whirlwind. Going back a bit before that, I had a dream about a friend from high school who I hadn’t thought of in years, and I strongly felt the Lord wanted me to contact His “lost son”. I did, and after sharing my testimony and some scripture, God used that as a pivotal part of this friend’s recent salvation. Wow. I mean, wow. I had some feeling that God was up to something, but to see Him move like that, and use me for some part of it...wow.

Mid-October, I went to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip, serving with Mission Emanuel. They operate a couple schools, a clinic, and a church in a village about 20 minutes west of Santo Domingo, the capital. The trip was intense and absolutely amazing. It started with us actually missing our flight. But I had told God I was giving this whole week to Him, so if He wanted us in the DR, He had to get us there! We got there the next day and immediately went to the mission and started setting up the physical therapy room (for special needs children) in the clinic. As I saw the PTs work on the children, God drove something home. My mind likes to constantly think in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. To work on a child for a bit, knowing he needs more help, seemed like a misallocation of resources or, in some coldly logical way, a waste of time (“not good enough”). But what I did learn was the heart of “do what you can where you are.” It’s not just about the body, but also about the soul. Love on God’s people. If you can do all that is needed, great. But at least do what you can. He puts us where He wants us. (My being in the DR was a testimony in itself; I had battled some depression around the decision time, wasn’t going to go, but an associate pastor rightfully challenged me on it and didn’t let me fade away).

And this was just from the first day.

I got to walk around the village and meet lots of people; also got to pray for many. The people are so warm and welcoming. You walk by, say “Hola!”, and they invite you in to sit and talk and commune. It’s beautiful.

Played with lots of kids, which was great. DID get to play a little frisbee, which I was most anticipating (shallow?...maybe...but it was fun :). Got in a little carpentry work; okay, I just sanded and caulked a bit, but it’s fun to say I did carpentry work.

The most singularly impactful event was when I assisted in the dental clinic. One morning, the power was out (a common occurrence) and the generator was broken (not so easily absorbable). Performing dentistry without power isn’t exactly a favored endeavor of the professionals. They needed some extra help, people to do their best mechanical arm impersonation and hold a flashlight for the doc. When Anna, one of the staff workers, came around to ask for help, I held back; let’s say it was to let others have the opportunity first. Thankfully for me, someone stepped up and went. And lo and behold, a few minutes later Anna was back, asking for more help (there were two dental chairs). She gave me a “please help” look, and I went. And God showed me again how He gets us where He wants us.

I ended up holding a flashlight while Mark, the dentist, pulled 25 teeth from a 13 year old girl; she had a lot of infection and the teeth were rotting to the gum line. Mark said if she hadn’t had this done, she may not have lived much longer. So I stood there, positioned the flashlight, and watched tooth after tooth come out...

...and this brave little girl never showed any fear or shed any tears. After a while, I did start to get a bit woozy (no a/c and lots of blood) and took a break. I found a solitary spot, sat down, and cried. I mourned sin, the brokenness and pain that has entered the world because of a stupid apple (I was a bit angry at that moment...obviously it wasn’t about the apple). It was a very intense crying, what I think I’d call mourning in the Spirit, or something like that; it wasn’t simply me weeping. God did remind me of the healing and redemption He has brought (“look around”) and is bringing. Praise be to God.

Other stuff happened, but you can ask me if you’re interested. It was a great trip and I do hope to return sometime soon.

God, being the type that just can’t help Himself but keep blowing my mind, had something else very special in store. During the trip, there was a father and daughter on the team; they had a great relationship, being best friends. God put some things on my heart to write to them, so I wrote a little note pointing out that relationship and how much of a blessing it was. I mentioned how my mother was estranged from her dad, that it had been very hard, and how so many others are in similar circumstance. I gave this note to the father on the day we left, Saturday.

After church the next day (back home), I called my mother and we talked for a bit. I told her how I was taking an hour or so before going to play frisbee to just zone out and try to recover from all the intense emotions, burden of sharing, etc. from the trip. Then she proceeded to tell me how, out of the blue, my grandfather had contacted her, and they met on that very Saturday I gave the note, and reconciled. I was floored to begin with, then I remembered writing the note, and I had to tell my mom I’d call her back. I got on my face and cried and worshipped God. I just couldn’t believe what was happening. I was an emotional mess in the best way. God’s healing is incredible.

So, all that was a lot. “But there’s more...” At the end of my first week back, I was laid off from my job. It wasn’t an absolute surprise, and I had already been looking for something else. When my boss called me into his office, I knew. I was pretty calm and completely trusted the Lord to provide. As I shared a couple days later at church, having see Him provide for those in the DR, how could I worry? It would be illogical. God promises so much to us. He doesn’t necessarily promise to give us what we want, but He does promise to give us what is good. And one of the greatest promises is that we don’t need to worry about anything. So, I trusted Him to provide. Now, trusting Him after praying for a little while and reading scripture and feeling great is one thing. But then the practical side hits, as I’m scrolling through jobs and not knowing what in the world to do. The enemy wanted to get me riled up and frustrated, but God gave me much grace to cast everything unto Him.

The first week of not working was harder than I expected. I faced tough temptations of various kinds, and they were worse than I anticipated. But somehow, someway, He got me through it all. I was determined to let Him work, trusting in His sovereignty. It was tempting to worry about needing to do more, etc. But I kept letting it go and doing what I could and trusting. Yesterday, I got a call, and within the hour I had a short-term contract position starting today with an old employer, doing what I like to do best (Access/VBA developing). And counting the new pay rate and severance I got, I ended up with more than I would have had if everything stayed status quo. God’s good like that. I was welcomed by lots of familiar faces, lots of smiles, “good to see you”s, “you’ve lost weight!”s, and the like.

The national average unemployment length right now is 6 months; mine lasted 6 days. I shake my head and close my eyes in amazement at the Lord’s hand.

I’ve struggled at times with the thought of “Why all this for ME?” Many others are struggling. But God reminded me that it isn’t all for me (I’m to be generous), and it’s His plan.

I could rattle off a long list of things I haven’t done in my walk/life that I should have, and vice versa. But a major factor in my growth is knowing that list doesn’t matter at all, and I’m able to let go of it as I dive into God’s grace.

So, a crazy involvement in a salvation, an incredible missions trip, an unexpected reunion with grandparents, a job loss, and a job gain. It’s been a whirlwind. And it’s an answer to prayer, much prayer, by me and by so many wonderful brothers and sisters who have stood by and supported me. I’m eternally grateful for them all. And I’m eternally indebted and thankful for my amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.