Many mornings I sat in front of my computer screen, wishing the words to form sentences across my keyboard. Unsure of what to say, or even how to began. Ways to freeze moments in time, to give them life on a computer screen, to do Him justice. Asking myself what I should even do with all I learned, saw, and most importantly felt. Pondering if there were experiences I should share, or continue to hold onto, clasping them near + dear to my heart, relishing in the undeniable presence of the abundant Holy Spirit and keep the encounters and proof to myself. My trip to Thailand left me speechless, massively jet-lagged, quieted my mind like 10 days worth of constant meditation, and showed me enough to free me from my spiritual doubts. It challenged me to step far beyond my comfort zone, forced me to stop planning and just be, and genuinely changed my heart in the name of Jesus Christ. To say I came back overwhelmed wouldn't be the half of it, my acupuncturist agrees, but you know that scene in the movie "the Beach" where Leonard Dicaprio + the crazy leader woman boat over to the city for supplies and Leo is dizzied by the lights, sounds and ongoings of the bustling metropolis he abandoned just a few shorts months ago? That's kinda of how my return to Hawai'i felt. Exciting, dizzying, lit with anticipation, and chock full of to-do lists. I wanted nothing more than some time to gather my thoughts, get back on track (still waiting for that to happen), and conjure a way to make sense of it all.
So, where to begin?
I went into Thailand and the mission trip without a single expectation. I knew very little about the country and even less about exactly what the group was to be doing. That's how missionaries roll, I am told, you've got to be flexible, go with the flow. So I did very little research, simply packed my bags, my 98.9% mosquito spray, a gazillion crafts for kids, two gallon zip lock bags to the brim with film and hopped on a plane excited, anxious, and possibly in over my head. Then, it hit me. My first spiritual attack (this concept is hard for some to grasp, and quite frankly was hard for me to see as well, until stepping back, seeing it for what it was and experiencing it on a different level). Seated at the farthest end of the boarding gate's black seats, awaiting the last leg from Seoul to Chaing Mai I wrote:
Day 1 mission trip:
In korean airport. Feel sick (throat hurts, runny nose, etc.). Feel like I want to bond but feel 'out of the loop' + clueless. I know I'm supposed to be here, so I pray Lord, please take these anxieties off me. The feeling that I'm not worthy, or clueless, or because others are overly social [like me] that I'M not validated. Please keep my relationship with Marshall strong and give our team the provisions we need. Give me emotional flexibility and a mendable, open heart, unharmed by pride or insecurities. 1 word: insecure."
Then, in an experience that wasn't the first but would mark many times the Lord just straight up worked his magic, I felt a tug at my heart to open my Jesus Calling app for the day.
As July 19th reads, the Lord answered:
"Bring me all your feelings, even the ones you don't wish to have. Fear and anxiety still plague you. Feelings per se are not sinful, but they can be temptations to sin. Blazing missiles of fear fly at you day and night; these attacks from the evil one come at you relentlessly. Use your shield of faith to extinguish those flaming arrows. Affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel. If you persist, your feelings will eventually fall in line with your faith. Do not hide from your fear or pretend it isn't there. Anxiety that you hide in the recesses of your heart will give birth to fear of fear; a monstrous stepchild. Bring your anxieties out into the Light of my Presence, where we can deal with them together. Concentrate on trusting Me, and fearfulness will gradually lose its foothold within you."
I thought I was going to faint. As I laughed to myself and teared up, I couldn't help but feel excitement well up inside me, thanking the Lord for hearing my prayer. So excited, in fact, that in the moment I shared what would normally be a personal entry with the group, exclaiming "Oh my GOSH! You guys have GOT to know what just happened!". With my anxiety erasing airport testimony, Jocie, a fellow team member, giggled and opened the page marked with the devotional for the day marked July 19th titled "Light Up Your Life", the basis of our upcoming crafts and teachings in Thailand. We all knew these weren't just coincidences, and with the Lord at our backs, no one could be against it. As I wrote in my notebook, I knew I was supposed to be on this mission trip, the provisions to get me there were too obvious to argue, they even had me laughing at times at God's glaring answers to my prayers. What I wasn't sure of was my purpose as photographer (+ craft leader). My impact. Just as he's show me the ever present Holy Spirit, soon enough he'd show me exactly what He brought me all the way from Honolulu to Thailand for, anyway.