January is gone, and I still haven’t sat down. February has started, and I still haven’t sat down.
To write. To speak. To cry. To laugh. To reminiscence.
2016. Many people on social media and around me kept saying it was such a “weird year”, a “terrible year”, a year no-one will want to remember. But no. I sit, and I remember. I document this, because it turned me around in many ways–both in good and bad ways.
I don’t expect anyone to read this. But I know I need to do it.
January, of the new year, I began to consider going to Haiti. I was terrified of the thought in one way, resistant in another. Then, God changed my heart on it. He told me He had great things for me to learn, experience, and take in about Him and His power in me. I went, knowing I was broken and imperfect, but knowing that He could do a work in all of this, no matter what. He did.
February, I continued to trust God had something great for the year–but at the same time kept thinking of reasons why it wouldn’t be. I slowly turned further away from the thought, however, with half of me kicking and screaming, and the other timidly thinking, knowing God could do it.
March of 2016 was rough. I wrote of it being one of the hard months that I’d had in the new year already–the end of my junior year. I was feeling the weight of it all–but still wrote of God’s faithfulness, in my remembrances of years past, and of how He continued. I wrote of the blessings to our church God gave in that time–more ministry help, new members. It was beautiful, it was fruitful.
April and May are a bit of a blur to my memory, but we were getting ready for our choir concerts, which were intense days. We had both Easter presentations and our Spring concert–full of much laughter, of goodbyes to good friends who left for college, and a moment of pause as I realized I was graduating next. I was determined to make the best of my last months in this season of being a junior in high-school.
June came so quickly. I took my first SAT, which brought stress when I later found how badly I’d done–and considered where I’d need to go in view of this. I prepared anew, my heart confused about God’s plan.
With it, came the realization that I was, after all, able to make it to Haiti–and even the Dominican Republic! God was working it all together beautifully…And even threw in a trip to Maryland, back home, just my sister Abi and my dad. We went for our missionary convention. It was a time that was refreshing because of how different it was–but also had some really power-packed messages that powered me for my trip and into the rest of the year. Some spoke of spiritual tattoos, of procrastination, and other great subjects. Looking back on it, I know I needed it even more than I’d even admitted at the time. I still had some classes I had needed to catch up last bits on–and these were so, so important. The procrastination messages applied to both some areas of my normal life, and even to my attitude on going on a missionary trip. I was glad for the reminder, and for the thought that God had brought me through so much. I was learning so much about trusting him…even just the fact that I’d asked him to just do it was amazing. It was faith at its finest, dare I say that.
I pause here—I didn’t realize, until now, how much my trip really affected me until I wrote this all down…It’s amazing.
As we landed in Haiti at the end of July, I had so many mixed thoughts…however, some stuck out more than others…There I was, my hands, my soul, initially with “manos vacias”, (From Broken Vessels in Spanish) or “empty hands”, but Jesus has, and continues, to fill them. I am nothing more than an open, available vessel. I realized this as I landed…Yes, I had come here to minister, to pour out, but I still would need to be poured into. I did not come perfect and completely ready. There is no way to fully do that–no matter where you are.
Some called me “The Brave One”, a name I liked at first, one I thought suited my fancy–until I checked myself and remembered it was God that brought me there. God who covered me…and God who would lead…
I wrote extensively on this in my blog here, so I won’t expound any more than to say God did it. I let go of my big fears, let him do what he needed to.
July–I left the orphanage and stayed with a family in the Dominican Republic after crossing the border with my friend and her dad. What an experience. I saw much that made me realize things about race, about the similarities between the three countries I’ve been in besides the United States. The family I stayed with is living there as missionaries. Their lives both humbled me and encouraged me for the things God could do in me–even when I initially argued that I was too unprepared. Maybe, one day, I’ll return there, either for a short time or longer–I would love to help them a bit. We stay in contact often, and I feel my heart being tugged on to return again.
I came home, heart renewed, mind sharp and focused, and ready for a challenge. I felt like I was on top of the world. I’d been so charged up–and had stories to last hours.
August was a hard month as my school kicked in again, and it was already my senior year. What a scary and exciting thought that was. I got ready for yet another SAT, and started looking into colleges–a task I hated at first…until I learned the ropes and became excited with Christian fellowship and a new challenge of possibly living elsewhere.
September continued the round, a month of such uncertainty as I struggled with some subjects and wondered if I’d get out alright. I continued to study the SAT, feeling slowly a bit more confident.
October 1st was my second SAT ever, and I went in confident. I had just turned 18, a monument in my mind. I was determined to “act adult”, to stand up for myself more. And that I did, when my SAT ended badly because of incorrect directions from my exam instructor. This lead to canceling my scores after a long disagreement and much speculation from my mom and I on the issue. It was a hard decision, as I’d felt better about that test than I’d expected.
November came, my heart torn on what to do next with my SATs. I took a new one, my heart rebelling internally, thinking God wouldn’t be able to do it this time because of how badly I felt about the whole issue. I was wrong when I found that I’d done hundreds of points better than expected or even hoped for. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was then also accepted to so many colleges–from this month to January–I got accepted into (thus far) 11 colleges out of my 14 that I’d applied to.
I was appalled. God had done it again.
We got ready for, and were already doing some choir concerts. These were the last of my Christmas concerts with my choir (which continued into December).
With unexpected travel from my parents and siblings, my second sister and I wound up staying with an 82-year old for Thanksgiving, bringing her much cheer, resting up a bit, and getting to eat at fancy restaurants and going to see The Nutcracker–a personal request I’d had for years. It was phenomenal.
December came so quickly. My sister visited for two weeks, and we had a good, “chill” time with her during it. Our new youth group had a play and did it for our church and another. It was sweet. We had many more concerts, and had our last ones much past the normal date for Christmas concerts. But, all in all, a good month full of joy and hope for the future, in view of all I’d surpassed and been victorious in over the month and the one before.
New Years came with a blast–as I look and see that God has much for me in this year, also. I look forward to making my decision in a college, in summer travels and perhaps a “real” job. I also must, must finally get my license.
If God was able to do all of that in one year–why not even more in this one? I still have my downs, and in this January month I learned a lot more about God I thought impossible. I also learned that god has a lot of work to do in my heart…but I think I’m ready. Let’s do this, Lord!
1 Thessalonians 5:24
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”