everyone-300x225Over then next few weeks, we will feature one of Amanda Pennel’s posts that she sent to supporters while she was on our 2015 mission trip to Ecuador. This is the final installment in this series. You can read the previous entries here: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6 if you want more information about our November 4 – 11, 2016 or July 28 – August 4, 2017 trip.

Thursday: Day 7 in Ecuador

Change.  It sounds like a completely nonthreatening word. But then, if you use the word as a verb and apply towards me and my life, that is when you’ll hear the knots beginning to form within my gut.  I am a creature of habit.  Aren’t we all?  I like my comfort zone; it’s neat and tidy.  And it was rather neat and tidy before I went to Ecuador; now I feel like God decided to build a track to run a speeding train right through my neat and tidy zone.  I’ve been anticipating this question that I would receive from everyone back home:  “how was the trip?”  It seems almost offensive to package up 7 days of intense emotion and experiencing God into one box and label it with a single word, but in trying to sum up the week, the word change will do for now.

This week was full of different:  different culture, different language, different feelings.  The one constant at all times was God.  Yes, I definitely experienced Him in new ways, but it wasn’t exactly unfamiliar. I’ve always known that God’s love for us can’t be fully explained; it’s tremendous and doesn’t make sense in worldly terms.  This week, as I saw love poured out from these families, from the staff, the children, and our team, I gained a much deeper understanding of God’s love.  He opened my eyes to see an entirely new level of Him, and my love for Him is forever changed.  An even greater love has taken root and flourished into something new.

And I really shouldn’t be surprised.  Despite my lack of enthusiasm for change, I am thankful that God reminds me that change is necessary and constant.  I’ve been praying during this trip, that God would not only break my heart for what breaks his, but that He would reveal the change that is needed in me, and that I.would.change.  Lord, stop me from resisting your work in me, help me recognize the change needed, and may I be one who responds in reflecting you.  And so, the speeding train has arrived, right on time.

Change.  It’s not always convenient.  It doesn’t always feel good.  It’s also not always as hard as we think it is.  I think our expertise in over-complicating anything interferes with ever executing any change.  God shared with me twice today from Genesis 12:1-2:

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

Talk about a speeding train – God called Abram to change…big time.  And Abram responded (v.4):  “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…”  Abram expressed no resistance.  Not one question.  Not any allowance to insert a “but” or “what-if.”  God shared with him all he needed to know at that moment:  time to change.  Oh, that we can all respond as faithfully as Abram, when we feel the pressure of the potter’s hands molding us into something new.

I personally have a lot to still process in my mind as I continue to digest this past week and pray in response.  The Lord has laid a few bits of truth on my heart where I feel immediate change in me is needed.  What and how exactly, I am not sure.  For now, God has called them to my attention, and I will focus on them as I await the next step.  I imagine the time within this next step will be challenging, as I’m coming off a “spiritual high” and adjusting back to the norm.  I would appreciate your continued prayers for the entire team, that we would not be ones who see and forget, but that we would always be reminded of our experience and possess the realization that we are always on mission.

I pray that the Lord would also give you a nudge for any change needed in your life, as you’ve shared in this experience with us this past week.

And may we all be ones who respond to Him, allowing God to work powerfully in us and through us, to do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine.

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement, support, and prayers!

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” (James 1:22-25, MSG)

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21, NLT)

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13, NIV)

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2, MSG)