Extraordinary. I wanted to have a word to describe my experience, and it was the best one I could find. I’d never been outside of the United States before, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect when my feet touched Dominican soil. I was excited, scared, and any other number of feelings all at one time. “I’m here on mission,” I thought, “but, what does that even mean?” All I knew was that for the next 5 days, I would have to trust God to lead me into finding that out.
I’ve wanted to share my experience since we returned, but I just couldn’t find the space in my spirit where I was ready. In talking to others who’ve done this, I heard a recurring theme: you’re not going to be the same. I woke up every morning for a week plus after returning thinking about the Dominican. I’m certain that I dreamed about Barahona every night. During the day, I would realize that I was physically here in Rogersville, but my head and my heart were in a place I’d only known for a few days. My thoughts were dominated by people that I’d only known for such a short time. But, by the move of an amazing God, it had become the same as if I’d known them all my life. How can you explain that? How does one find the words for it?
You know what? I think that in this moment I just figured out how to say it. I fell in love with Barahona, Dominican Republic. I fell in love with Batey Central. You know why? Because, Jesus is madly in love with them! And, I believe that because I’ve fallen in love with Jesus, He causes me to fall for the nations of the world. You can’t help it. You are completely smitten with the people He loved so much that He laid down EVERYTHING for them! He’s got it bad for people, and if we’re following in His steps, we will, too!
I wish I could tell you all the stories about the people who walked each step in this with us and the absolutely miraculous, God-breathed moments we experienced. It was sacred…it was holy. It was exhilarating…it was sobering. We laughed…we wept. It was, well, extraordinary.
I left here to go and serve, but I found myself served even more. I left here to possibly teach someone something, but I found myself the learner. I went to take Jesus to people, but I found Jesus in the people. I went to take hope, but I found hope that I didn’t even know that I needed! I found that His Church is alive and well, and I realized yet again what an honor it is THAT WE MAY serve Him. I am more thankful than I have ever been for all that my Savior lavishes on me daily, and I don’t mean the stuff that I have. Everyday I rise from my sleep with the chance to impact lives for the glory of Jesus Christ; my life is a series of moments…God-breathed, Christ-driven moments to make a difference in someone’s day or even their life! I don’t deserve that, but in His profound grace He chooses to use me. May I never take that for granted again….
So, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. You can find them by searching 3SXTY on Facebook. We captured the face of Jesus in our new friends, and I don’t think you’ll have any problem seeing Him. I saw the face of Jesus in us in those pictures, too. Smiles just a little bit brighter than before…eyes on fire with His passion. Hearts overflowing with Him showing so much joy; no wonder it was hard for us to leave! But, we brought that back with us, and I hope it blazes forth daily from each of us as we continue on mission here at home. And, if you would like to know more about what you see in those pictures, just find one of us. But, let me warn you…be prepared to hang out for a while! We have a lot to say, and it’s o.k. if you wonder how we can still be so excited even now. We’ve all been a little peculiar since our return, and I hope that doesn’t change one bit. We’re going back if the Lord chooses to hold off His return. He invited us to “come and see,” and what we saw we can’t wait to experience again with some new faces in tow.
In the meantime, thank you, Jesus, for all You’ve done and are doing in us. You inspired us to go, and You met us there in ways that have inspired a new wonder and awe of You. Keep our friends in Your care, and do the same miracle in the lives of all the teams that come after us this year. We know You’re doing the “immeasurably more,” and we can’t wait to see what’s next! Now, with a new fire, we’re taking the Kingdom to Hawkins County, TN; wreck this place for Your glory, Lord! We’re with You!