Our lives may not always be stable or in this perfect cookie cutter way we have idealized but the invitation is always constant – “Follow me.” We are a month into this radical journey of newness and transformation. Before leaving for Abbeville, LA. I had this overwhelming zeal and pure enthusiasm, ready to live a life full of radical possibilities and receive nothing but radical love. God has really outdone himself this time (leaving me in awe day after day because of his goodness and intense understanding of my heart). This is where I belong – there is no other place I need to be in the world except right here with 61 other missionaries in training; to go and spread life giving news to the world = The Lord. To say I wake up every single day blessed is an understatement. My life is already so very different from when I first walked through the doors of Big Woods. I must share the Good News about the Kingdom of God in other cities or towns because that is what God has sent me to do. “The lord takes delight in his people, he crowns the poor with salvation.” We are called to a poverty that glorifies God, that reflects and embodies who Jesus is. He was poor, he chose to be born in a manger and to be a son of a carpenter. We all will never fully understand what it is like to be poor in another country but we are called to give away all of our abundance. “We can’t love God if we do not share what we have with our brothers and sisters in need. 1 Jn. 3:16-18. “The proof of our faith is that we live in Gospel Poverty in order to share with others: Luke 3:10-11. I am blessed to be able to be this funnel between my support here in America and in other countries to serve from that abundance.
So Enough about me – I want to talk about what the people here are like and what we are all doing. We are made in the image of God so we all reflect a part of him. I know that to be true as I look into the faces and hear the truth in the voices of these incredible people I am surrounded by daily. The stories, laughter and intimate conversations with my fellow missionaries as well as the special talents they have unique to them to serve people are all proof of the body of Jesus at work AND of course at play. We are studying the whole book of Acts together, the mission of the redeemer encyclical, Si Señor classes that specifically tie into being effective missionaries led by our leadership team and teaching workshops where we work on developing thorough teachings that we will be giving in the field. We have chores everyday for two hours and four hours on Saturday to continue to practice our servant hearts. They are my family, we are all on this journey together, walking step by step. The lord has given me people who have just as crazy and big of a heart as I do.
Most importantly and my favorite thing we have been able to do is serving and ministering to people in downtown Abbeville. Last Tuesday, I got to do a type of ministry called Treasure Hunting, finding people needing a touch from God, prayer, or even a simple kind word. A group of us gather in the chapel and pray for fifteen minutes – asking the Holy Spirit for words of knowledge, visions, people’s names, or a place we should go. Then we by ourselves we write it down on piece of paper, forming a list. Word by word, my group and I received revelatory “clues” from the Holy Spirit and ended up driving to a Park. As I stepped out of the car there was a man in a walker and a woman playing with her daughter. “Go to her, go to her, go to her” kept replaying over and over in my heart. I knew this would be the woman that god brought me. I started to make small talk with her and she immediately knew I wasn’t from Louisiana – that opened the door for me to introduce myself and for her to say her name. To my utter astonishment her name was Simone – which was the name of the woman on my list along with the clues of hoop earrings and a purple shirt that she was wearing. I told her about what we were doing and how she was on my list (which she made me show her) an she allowed us to pray and was profoundly touched, so much so that she stood in a daze after we were finished and couldn’t help but praise the lord. Now the team had more confidence and faith to follow the next clues. Which led us to Walmart were the lord quickly led me to a man who’s brother in law is dying of cancer and has only a couple of days left to live. He was so shocked that the Lord sent people to pray with him and his wife. As we prayed over him, he began to cry, and was deeply touched and thankful for the comfort in such a desperate time. We had three more people the Lord sent us that night, two beautiful families that needed prayers and healing, as well as woman who was in emotional distress and who I continue to pray for daily. God wants us to explore every adventure with Him and take us on a wild supernatural treasure hunt. It is not solely for our benefit, although we become blessed in the process, but for others . . . we never know which random person we may encounter whose life will ultimately be changed by our pursuit.
My last and favorite way I get to minister is by volunteering at the Crisis Pregnancy center and speak to low-income woman who need the free resources, testing, ultra-sounds, diapers, formulas, food etc. that are offered but some who come in because they are contemplating abortion. These woman come from all walks of life but mainly are sometimes in abusive situations or are homeless. What I do honestly is so simple but yet so needed. I just talk to them, show them how loved they are, show them that they are dignified and that it isn’t contingent on external circumstances around them, but mostly I just listen to them.
On Thursday, We pulled up to the Christen Service Center (where the clinic is) and we already had a line waiting for us in the Louisiana humidity. I immediately noticed a woman wearing Nike Flip-flops and polka-dot socks, holding a newborn. This normally wouldn’t stick out to me (hello I am always a fan of fun socks) but yet again even though it was two days later – God decided to give me another clue from treasure hunting. We talked and as she was showing me pictures, I found out she has two other daughters. I told her about treasure hunting and how god brought me her by her socks. She opened up about her oldest daughter that was deaf and all of the struggles they have been having lately. How it has been a big strain on the family. They have to go back and fourth from Abbeville to Lafayette to make all of her doctor appointments (which is an hour away). It was beautiful to see how she asked for prayers before I could even offer. Afterwards of course we got to hug (my favorite) and away she went with a little love from the Father (God).
Later that day, a woman walked in and I could feel a heaviness about her. I did what I always do and made conversation. One of the other missionary girls Kellie joined me. We talked and she was so kind but nothing about her was on my “list.” Still I felt a pull to her. She came to the clinic for her check up and to get some diapers. When she started to head back with the nurse for her check-up, we separately prayed to see what the Lord wanted us to do. Kellie heard the Word “Uncle” and was mulling it over when she turned to me and said “I really think God is calling me to pray over Andrea”, (changed name) and I looked into her eyes smiling as I said, “I received that same call.” So, we went outside and told each other what the Lord told both of us – Kellie’s word of “uncle,” and I felt she needed to be reminded of her value and that she has a purpose here. Since there was such a big difference between what God spoke to both of us, we decided to do another prayer to make sure what we heard was from God. As we were about to start our prayer – Andrea walked out and headed for her car. Kellie and I did the only thing that we could do – we jogged over to her car where her and her mother were- apologized for how weird it all looked and how much weirder it was about to get. Kellie told her about what the Lord told her and how she received the word “uncle” and immediately the girl was saying how her uncle has a bad heart condition. We prayed over her and that situation but the Lord would not leave my heart alone. So, after we finished, I asked Andrea if she needed prayers for anything, and her mother responded “yes, yes she does” with an impacting voice. So I told her everything the Lord was telling me. I told her how valued she is, how she is needed and has a purpose – wether that is to be a great mom to her child or for whatever else she is called to. I said something along the lines of “no matter what people say to you or do to you, you never stop being loved or lose your value. That is something that cannot be taken away.” As I opened my eyes Andrea and her mom were crying. Andrea began to tells us how her and her husband are not in a good place which has caused a ton of fighting. She opened up about it being really hard for her. We hugged and as she drove away I couldn’t help but praise the Lord and how much he loves all of us.
I am in awe of God every single day – He never fails to fill me and to inspire me. He never leaves me and I know that he is always walking with me through everything. Wether it is as my bare feet hit dirt as I walk to the chapel or my hair flows as I look out at his creation on the porch or as I read his truth in scripture or see kids screaming as they run through the fields here. He sees it all and takes it all, as so do I. He dwells in our hearts and is always pursing us, because Kellie and I said yes, and pursed that woman, it was him pursing her through us. We are a society that is full of love and we have a whole world that is a hidden treasure chest. So we must treasure each other. I believe that Love is the most powerful force in the world and that one day, only goodness will remain.
“We must allow ourselves to be interrupted by God” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
With so much love and Prayers – Bonnie