Well, friends, it’s here, I’m here. I’m officially moved in at Big Woods in Abbeville, Louisiana and this life is already such an adventure. Many of the trees are covered in vines that make it look like a jungle and you can always count on at least four tree frogs stuck to the windows of the chapel in the morning. The roadside ditches are filled with water and reeds. The other day we passed an alligator belly up by the road. Then, just a couple days later, we all ate alligator (coincidence?) *. I’ve never felt like I belong somewhere more than I do here.
It’s been raining almost every day here which has made the mosquitoes like an army of tiny vampires armed with blood-slurping straws. Some of the mosquitoes are freakily large, it’s quite concerning. These tiny little blood-sucking menaces have been causes of great joy, however. Just the other night, I and a couple of the other single missionaries decided to go to Dollar General because that’s what you do for fun when you don’t have internet and it’s too wet to go outside. Plus, we wanted ice cream. We piled in the car and started down the road but quickly found our defenses had been breached. Mosquitoes were all over the inside of the car. THWACK! thhhWACK! THWACKTHWACKTHWACK! Everyone in the car was slapping the ceiling, the windows, the seats as we drove down the road bursting with laughter at the shear ridiculousness of it.
Another night we found a little itty-bitty baby gecko in the bathroom. He was given the name Leonard and then it was changed to Chaco and then Leonard Chaco. He spent the night in a cup on the bathroom counter and had disappeared on his little gecko adventures by the next morning.
The people, though. Oh, the people. Everyone here is so clearly on a journey towards heaven. Their souls are just bursting forth with beauty and joy. God’s love is so evident in their smiles, their tears, and their service. This year at Intake, children outnumber the adults for incoming missionaries. I could make an entire post simply about these families but what amazes me most is the parents just take everything in stride. These families sold everything they had, often with 5 or 6 kids to come serve the poor and glorify God. I can learn something new from them every day about sacrifice and love.
Something that I’ve been working on a lot this week is relationship. We’ve been blessed every day with having talks from community leaders at Big Woods about various topics related to mission. One of the first ones talked about the heart of mission. You see, it’s like a tree. Relationship is the roots. Our relationship with God is what fuels us, it’s what gives us life. Our identity is the trunk and grows from the relationship we have with God. Mission is the fruits of the tree. Sure, we can try to keep up the appearances of our identity for some time without God. We might look healthy and fruitful but, ultimately, if our roots aren’t healthy, we’re going to topple over. This can be applied to every aspect of life. Mission doesn’t have to be selling everything you have and serving the poor in another country. Mission could be loving your husband or wife. It could be passing that test that’s next week. It could be starting a Bible Study with coworkers. Let God be the center of everything and He’ll multiply your fruits more than any other source could.
I’ve learned so much in this first week and can already tell this crazy life is going to be a whirlwind of adventure. I love you all and I’ll continue to post updates here! Find God today 😊
*Friends, I promise you, we did not eat the alligator from the ditch.