In telling of the mission trip I led to Ecuador, I have to borrow words from Adrian Plass:
I cannot [tell my experience] in words.How should I spell despair, excitement, joy, and grief,Amazement, anger, certainty and unbelief?
I grew attached to Gabriela, a twelve-year-old girl whose mother sells herself to men. Our friendship blossomed, we studied the Bible together, and I was able to baptize her.
Out of our team of eleven, I was one of two translators, and despite a cold, was able to spend much of my time building linguistic bridges between languages and cultures.
What more? It seems to all be a muddle to me. What I do know is that I have been sad ever since I got back. And I don't think that it had to do with saying goodbye to my dear friends in Ecuador and Peru; I was prepared to have to say goodbye to them. Rather, I miss my teammates from Downey. For two weeks, I was needed and appreciated and loved. I had something to give, something that others esteemed. I had grown really close to these people, through shared conversations and experiences. It had become OK to be affectionate, because I was in a country where that is socially acceptable (and those who know me, know how much I love giving and getting hugs!).
I guess I was unprepared for the shock of returning to "real life". It's not that I'm seeking to continue some sort of mountain top experience, but rather, I discovered how much I enjoy facilitating experiences for others. Whether it's helping others discover the freedom of a life in Christ, or translating so people can understand each other, or simply talking about life and faith, I love to be a part of it. And when I returned to Downey, I realized that I don't do much of that on a regular basis.
At the same time, God used this time to heal some things that had been in my life for a while. I've been able to let go of a lot of things, by the simple act of stepping out of my comfort zone, and finding new friends that have nothing to do with those other situations. In comparison, my inner life seems very full now, and the future looks a little brighter.