Faithfulness none can deny or describe
Through the storm or through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me
As I think back to my last post it seems so distant. So much has changed. My eyes have seen the indescribable. My feet have walked new territory. My hands have held new wildlife. My heart has become full of gratitude and love.
I could give the typical blog post and list the beaches, types of wildlife, typical comical Danielle moments, and what I had for dinner, but I don´t feel like it would be significant for you to know. If you asked me I would gladly tell you with excitement (flailing hands and joyful facial expressions included), but for an update on my time here I can only relate it back to the One who has been faithful…Jesus.
I asked many of you to pray that God were reveal His purpose for me here. My first couple weeks I felt like I was in a dream. Sitting in 4 hours of Spanish, being surrounded by Americans who were just as bewildered and scared as me (some hid it better than others) , not knowing what the guy said out the window in Spanish let alone the waitress at the restaurant, and knowing that my house was purple but no clue on how to find it some days was overwhelming. I wasn´t picking up on Spanish as quickly as I thought (I think selfishly in my mind Jesus was just going to bop me over the head and instantly I would be able to roll my r’s) and my days seemed so…surfacey. Microsoft Word is telling me that is not a word so I will explain:
I would ask Jesus at night “What am I doing here? I feel like I am just going through the motions. Eat breakfast, sit in class for 8 hours, have short polite conversations with others discussing what their mama tica had for dinner or what they did this weekend, and then do homework and go to bed. Jesus I feel like a tourist. Probably because I am, but I am seeing the most beautiful places but am leaving them so quickly and am just skimming the surface of them. I am seeing what I want to see. What do you want me to see. Why am I here. I don´t feel safe, I don´t know the language, and I don’t feel appreciative because I feel so surface. Lost.”
But man…..did God hear this prayer and answer it ABUNDANTLY! In life I have seen the Lord discipline me as a Father. In ways that I didn´t understand but later so they were so for my good. I am now opening my eyes to see that the Lord answers me like an answering machine…in His perfect timing J
First, He has provided me with safety. He has put people into my life that are seriously guardian angels. I look over, and they are there. I need to get somewhere and can´t go alone, and people offer to go with me. In situations here, I sometimes feel like Jesus has put me in Glinda´s bubble and reminds me of the promise that ”no weapon formed against me will prosper.” And they haven’t. And I have faith they won’t.
Second, He blessed me with food. My program includes breakfast and dinner. As some of you know, I am not a big breakfast person. Give me two or three cups of coffee and that is equivalent to a continental breakfast. The combination of not eating a lot of breakfast in the morning, no lunch, and dinner that mostly consisted of rice, tortillas, beans, and salad was a change. It´s not like they were starving me, my Mama Tica is a very loving person, it´s just what they eat and that is their culture. Hence, I would be so hungry. Sometimes Olivia and I would have 35 minute conversations about food. However, God provided in crazy ways. The girl I tutored in English the first half of my time here offered to pay me which immediately went into my food savings. A couple of us girls stumbled upon the nicest, sweetest, yummiest little place called the Whisk our first day that has amazing bread and pastries that are not overpriced. And the people there have become like family. God has expanded my stomach to eat more breakfast in the morning. Two times I remember being so hungry my Mama Tica surprised me with Tres Leches and chocolate chip pancakes. I will confess: I may have teared up when I saw the chocolate chip pancakes. One specific night, when Liv and I were so hungry and had to miss dinner because of an event, we arrived and literally were spoiled rotten by food. Nutella crapes and popcorn was present: Jesus knows His daughter´s favorite snacks. I was in heaven. All of this aside, a wise friend back at Grove City reminded me that everytime I had my bread for lunch to be thankful and to reflect on the truth that Jesus is my daily bread and He truly is life to me. He is everything that I need and He can truly only satisfy. He really does and I have seen it here. And not only does He provide, but He blesses me abundantly in time of need. It has stretched my heart to remember those that are hungry every day and to pray for them.
Third, He has blessed me with people. C.S. Lewis says it best:
“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
What BEAUTY I have found in others here. How I have been blessed by the opening of their hearts, vulnerability in confessing their pains and struggles, and sharing laughter through the good and the bad. How I craved my first week to know and understand people on a deeper level….and how He has given me opportunities and open hearts to do so. How I craved Christian sisters who could keep me accountable and share in the joys of this experience through Jesus lenses…and how He has provided that abundantly. And how I prayed for people to come into my life so I could share my joy and love and walk beside them as they begin to look up and see that my joy, hope, and strength comes from a loving God, Jesus Christ. Oh how I want them to know Love. To know God. To walk with Jesus. These people are beautiful.
Fourth, He has given me experiences that I never dreamed possible. Horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling, watching dolphins, chilling on an island, riding on a boat, seeing 2 oceans at once, holding a butterfly and Tucan, swimming in a waterfall, zipling, surfing, Tarzan swimming, coffee sipping, rainforests, mountains, water, and city. I don´t type this list to brag or list my accomplishments. These are not accomplishments but gifts form a loving Father.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” –James 1:17
Every good thing comes from Jesus. He is the definition of love and good. Hence, all these things are not something I earned. They wouldn´t be gifts if I earned then. But they were GIVEN. Why? Because I serve a loving God. Why aren´t these specific experiences given to everyone? Because He knows what we each need in certain moments of our lives. And we all need different things. But He does promise He is for our good and wants what is best for us. Even if we don´t see it at the time. Also, we are never to suppress our calling or where we are placed. Costa Rica is just as important as New Bethlehem, Germany, Las Vegas, Africa, Iraq, etc. Wherever we are placed, it is for a reason. One is not a higher calling than another. We are all equally loved by the Father. Let us soak in that truth when Satan tries to tell us differently and fills us with lies of unworthiness or lies that we aren´t as blessed as others. All of us are blessed…in different ways. If only we trusted in those ways because we clung to the truth that God is love and He is good. I encourage you as well as myself to take hold and stand on this Truth amongst the raging storms and lies of this world.
Finally, He has given me joy and eyes that are able to see things because of the joy I have in Jesus. Another CS Lewis quote (I tell you, Lewis and I would have been best friends in any England pub or library):
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis
When I stood on that mountain overlooking both oceans and in the background heard complaints of the cold, the hike, it being 4 am, desires to be at the bar instead atop a mountain, all I could think about was this quote. This quote comes into my mind all the time when I get comments like “ Oh, you are just so bubbly Danielle! So happy all the time! You always have a smile!” and again I go back to this quote. It´s not only because I believe and see Jesus in my life, but because of Him, and His light, I am able to see through the darkness of this world. It´s not that I am naïve about or ignore the darkness . Trust me, I have seen darkness and been in darkness myself. I have experienced pain and saw the pain of others. I do not underestimate those things. I cry over darkness with Jesus. But His light shines through. His light is hope. love. And promise. I am able to see the falleness of this world and call it sin. Not because I am ¨religious¨ by the world´s standards, but because I have seen what good and light are given by Jesus in this world, and am able to see it as the opposite of sin. I´ve seen it not because I am “good” but because of Jesus’s grace.
I have not only been able to see the harshness and pain of sin and darkness because of the Light, but I am also able to experience the good gifts given by God in a heavenly sense. The beauty in a painted sunrise with clouds moving like deer. The joy in melting chocolate on a hotel step in Panama. A boat ride full of wind, bumps, sea, and singing with a dear friend. The warmth of a hug from Tita, my 81 year old grandmother here. The thankfulness in a slice of bread that they have offered to warm up and butter because they know I can´t afford anything else at the moment. The movement of a rocky bus ride up the mountains of Costa Rica that feels like I am bouncing on Jesus’s knee. The ability to hear the waves and birds and yearn to download these melodies on my own personal ipod in my head to be played all the day long. The care that is found in a community of amigas. The conversations that have opened doors and hearts. And then to see each interaction and each person as a handicraft of God, placed in one’s life not for coincidence, but for purpose. I see these things only because of the Light that I have been graced with by a loving Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ.
“We will overcome, by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Everyone, overcome. “