My Summer in Honduras

When I planned to intern at an orphanage in Honduras this summer I knew my life would change forever. I just didn’t know how much. I knew I would be stretched, my faith tested, my comfort zone shattered, and the trajectory of my life dramatically altered. And even though I expected all of these things to happen, y’all… I didn’t see this coming.

So often we brag about the power of our God and how He brought us through great and mighty trials. We joyfully boast in His faithfulness, in stories of redemption, restoration, healing, and the end to particularly gruesome seasons. We proudly show off our scars because they point to our perfect healer.

But when the waters are still raging, the wounds still bleeding, and the heart break still so real it hurts to breath, we remain oddly silent, as if somehow the goodness of our God is contingent on the goodness of our circumstances.

We talk about battles won, but never acknowledge those still being fought.

For the past year and a half, I have begged God for very clear direction in my life. I know He has called me overseas and into ministry, but the who/where/what/when/why/how part was still foggy. And over and over again, He gave me a very clear answer for this summer: Honduras.

I knew I was called to spend the summer of 2016 in Honduras, long before I even applied for a position. I didn’t particularly want to apply, because it pushed me farther out of my comfort zone than I was willing to go and it left me more vulnerable than I ever care to be. I wanted to go, and knew I was called to go, but it scared me silly and when my other options were so much easier, avoiding the hard thing, even though it was the right thing, seemed so much more appealing.

So, I pulled a Gideon. I told God I would only go if X and Y didn’t happen (even though they already had), and if He would promise me that Z one day would. Within days, X and Y were taken away. The internship at La Providencia was the answer to easily the boldest, most dramatic, and most impossible prayer I have ever prayed.

God had confirmed it, time and time and time again. Through His word, through my time with Him, through other people. God had called me to Honduras, at least for this season.

As I was preparing to spend the summer serving one of the most Gospel minded ministries I have ever heard of, the Lord taught me two very important things: one about trials, and one about joy.

He reminded me of all the trials I have ever walked through, and I realized, I wouldn’t change a single one. I’m not a tragic person, but I have been to Hell and back on more than one occasion. Oh but how easy it is to boast in victories won by our Conquering King. I never knew Jesus as the Prince of Peace until my life was in chaos. I never knew Him to be Healer until I felt ugly, battered, and broken beyond repair. Through the trials He had revealed His character to me, and had glorified himself through the victory He had won in my life. Yes, I have walked through some painful, painful things- things I would never wish upon anyone- but I have seen how He used those hard parts to bring others to Him. I would never, ever want to trade that for an easy, cushy, comfy life. My RA this year had a painting hanging outside her door with a Charles Spurgeon quote that read “Easy roads make sleepy travelers.” And as I was preparing for what I knew would be a challenging summer, I rejoiced. Somehow, miraculously, he brought me to a place where I could honestly say “I wouldn’t change it” because I knew He was good, I knew He had been glorified, and He had brought me, and others, closer to Himself through it all.

He also taught me of the importance of joy. 10 days before I was to leave for Honduras, I wrote this:

“Joy in the waiting. Joy in the unknown. Joy in the unanswered questions. ‘Joy is not optional, and the final weight of it falls not on our weak backs, but on the almighty shoulders of God.’”

So I was ready to go. I was so willing. And the ways the Lord had confirmed that He was indeed calling me to spend the summer in Honduras were undeniable.

And then 36 hours before I was to board the plane, He shut the door. And my life changed forever. My faith tested, my comfort zone shattered, and the trajectory of my life dramatically altered.

I knew those things would happen this summer. I just thought they would happen in the country that holds the most dangerous city in the world, the one with the highest homicide rate outside of a war zone… not from the comfort of my parents’ suburban home. I thought it would happen as He used me, not as He didn’t use me. I didn’t think every plan I had ever made would be ruined. And I didn’t think it would hurt so damn much.

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here

The clear direction I had been praying for for so long had been given, confirmed, fought against, and then confirmed again so clearly it might as well had been posted on a billboard was suddenly taken away.

I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done

And I was wrecked. Every plan I have ever had for my life, my major, my university, my summer, were all suddenly, painfully changed.

I know you’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about

When the waters are still raging, the wounds still bleeding, and the heart break still so real it hurts to breath, we remain oddly silent, as if somehow the goodness of our God is contingent on the goodness of our circumstances.

And I know why. Being in this place is hard, and talking about it even harder. Admitting we are broken and confused and a little bit lost takes a vulnerability we avoid like the plague.

It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you’re God
And I am not

Thy will be done

But I will say, now, in the midst of picking up the pieces of everything I had ever planned for my life, I have never felt such peace. Nothing is the way I thought it would be. And it hurts. Oh it hurts. No one would ever call my circumstances today “good”. But I know He is good. He does good.  And He has a plan.

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store

And even though I can’t see it, I’m okay. Because His goodness isn’t contingent upon my circumstances. He is still God and He is still good and His plan is still perfect and so is His timing. His peace is still freely given and so is his joy. If easy roads make sleepy travelers, I don’t want them. I want to be wide awake, able to dance in His presence, filled with a peace so unexplainable and a joy so divine that shattered dreams and ruined plans and closed doors can’t damper.

So, as it turns out, my summer in Honduras never actually happened. But it taught me more than I ever expected. It taught me how to live in joy despite my circumstances, how to experience peace when nothing makes sense, and how to surrender my plans when controlling them in my first instinct.

It still hurts. It’s still raw, and answering questions about it still isn’t easy, because, well, I don’t have the answers. I don’t know that anyone could ask me something that I haven’t asked myself a million times already.

I don’t know what He is doing, or where He is taking me, or why any of this happened. If He was going to take it away I don’t know why it was given in the first place.

But He is good. He does good. Joy in the waiting. Joy in the unknown. Joy in the unanswered questions.

And most importantly,

Thy will be done.

Hillary Scott – Thy Will Lyrics 

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