This first month of 2015 has not panned out quite how I had thought it would. It’s been filled with a lot of challenges and emotional ups and downs, discount but it feels like mostly downs.
It was incredibly difficult to leave my family and return to Ecuador for a second semester. Last semester in Ecuador was an incredible experience. I felt like God was constantly surprising me with new aspects of His character and in the things I saw Him doing around me. As I flip through journal entries from last semester, I’m reminded, and even surprised, by how much prayer I put in to the semester and by how God answered those prayers in magnificent ways. I felt like it was a semester of refinement for me, where the Lord really stretched my character and my abilities in ways that just wouldn’t have been possible had I stayed in Boston. And I truly am so thankful for it. I also made some incredible friends and was constantly challenged to face my day to day life with a heart of adventure. It really was an amazing semester.
But studying abroad is also exhausting. I’m always at least a little bit outside of my element and the constant street harassment and not feeling safe in my own city has worn on me. Living in a completely different country with a totally different culture is hard, as is being away from my family for so long.
My first week in Ecuador was really difficult. I landed and less than 24 hours later I got super sick with what turned out to be a stomach infection. How on earth did that even happen so fast? I was sick for several days meaning that I missed my first few days of classes and spent a lot of time alone in bed. This definitely didn’t make my transition back easier. Last semester I was amazed by how easy my transition was–I adjusted quickly and didn’t experience much homesickness. This time around has been pretty different. I’ve experienced more homesickness than ever before in my life, which has been a profoundly hard and new experience.
I’ve been continuously reminded of the importance of holding on to the promises of the Lord. I know that God has a specific purpose in me being in Ecuador for another semester. I know that He has already gone before me and prepared an Amilia-shaped space for me in this place. This has been something I’ve held onto tightly as I’ve struggled through this past week.
One Sunday morning before leaving for Ecuador I was at church and during the service there was a time where people took turns reading out scripture. One woman stood up and spoke out these words, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” As soon as I heard those words, I felt God saying very strongly that this was His promise to me for 2015. Those words have been very powerful for me this first month of the new year. It’s been a reminder to be expectant to see the goodness of God here and now, in the land of the living. The following verse reads, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord.” These words have reminded me that there is often an aspect of waiting to see the promises of God fulfilled. I don’t believe that the waiting is necessarily because God wants to withhold good things from us…I think sometimes we just don’t know what’s happening in the waiting because we see such a limited picture in the scope of the universe. But I do know that God is not ever far from us, and my prayer has been, “Lord, meet me in the waiting.”
I believe that God has special, joyous, and good surprises in store for me this semester, and even in my times with Jesus this week I’ve felt what it’s like to be met in the waiting, to learn in the waiting, to build an enthusiasm in this season for my day to day and for what is to come.
Things are already feeling easier as I’m physically feeling better and getting back to the swing of things. I am so thankful for all who have been praying for me and who have reached out to me these past few weeks–it has made a significant difference. I would absolutely love further prayer, encouragement, and words from the Lord as I live out my life here in Ecuador. It takes faith to say that I am still confident of the promises of the Lord, but praise God that He is so faithful and that we can expect to see His goodness in the land of the living.