When I was only ten years old I remember sitting perched on the edge of a pew listening to a man tell about life on foreign shores serving the least. I felt something rise in my heart and I knew that somehow my life would find it’s direction to the foreign lands he was mentioning.
It seemed like adventure. It seemed like living life on purpose and full of meaning.
Fast forward to me as an adult and my amazing wandering-heart-wild-dreaming husband. We set out for the shores of West Africa and life in the remote bush of a country we’d never seen and knew only from books.
It was everything and nothing I expected all at once.
Prior to heading to the field we had a great deal of preparation. We listened soberly to to other folks tell about the difficulties of life in another land. We nodded and empathized and tried to walk forward with the knowledge that the journey would be hard.
Our newsletters were hopeful as we raised support and packed our bags. Only a few months into the adventure the newsletters got harder to write. Not only were we facing a huge influx of refugees in desperate need, but reality had set in and it wasn’t really the kind of stuff you fill up a tidy newsletter with.
Nothing really prepares you for the reality of it all.
You can’t live prepared for nights sweating through your clothes while your sheets stick to you and you stick to a bug net. A million hours of cross-cultural studies classes doesn’t give you the tools in your bag to deal with a mother who lost another baby to malaria. You can’t adequately ready your soul for the holidays spent scraping together something that resembles a Western meal to share with people you barely know. There is no way to know how the loneliness and longing for a conversation with someone who doesn’t want a single thing from you will hit you.
And all the while you have to write letters home and share with your supporters about all that God is doing when sometimes your soul feels a million miles away from Him. It might be the truth but it isn’t fodder for newsletters.
Velvet Ashes is a community of women that get all of it and don’t need you to write us the prim and proper newsletter.
We get that you are struggling with what it is that you signed up for. We get that the other members of your team are difficult and you sometimes feel like you are treading water. It is understood that the field can be a lonely place and it can take it’s toll on a mama, a marriage, a devoted Christ chaser.
This community is for those of us who believe in giving our all because He gave us all. It is also for those of us struggling through what that means and how that looks as we live our lives scattered across the globe.
Bring your ugly half written newsletters.
Bring your aching hearts.
Bring it all to this one place.
Bring it all here.
Velvet Ashes is a place made just for you.
What were you unprepared for when you arrived overseas? What has helped or is helping you through?