I’m nearly finished with my year here in Mexico, meaning I’m almost done with Vanguard. It’s been quite a year, and it’s kind of crazy that I’m ending it where everyone else began. But somehow, it’s fitting.
I have been told more than once that it’s pretty obvious that I’m not here for the Vanguard curriculum – the most recent example being the young woman who grades my homework pulling me aside one day and telling me that based off of my participation in class and the work I turn in on homework and tests, I’m not here to gain knowledge (which isn’t to say that I haven’t learned a lot in my time here, because I definitely have). I have a pretty solid grasp on biblical concepts, and I have an understanding of how to apply those concepts to my everyday life. She told me that while she’s pretty sure I’m here for something else, she isn’t quite sure what that thing is.
I, myself, have known this since I enrolled in Vanguard – I didn’t come here with school in mind. I had always known that it would be more of a underlying thing. It seems to be setting the groundwork for what I’m supposed to be here doing. Some of you may remember, if you asked me about the school, that I had the mindset that I’m here for missions work, but the school was for me to keep grounded in the Word and to have the grounds to form my personal beliefs, beliefs that I hold conviction for, rather than the beliefs of someone else that I can merely regurgitate.
While it may seem like I’m discrediting my time in Vanguard, this was all to say the complete opposite: my time in Vanguard was/is critical for this season.
I realise that I haven’t done much that would count as mission work, and this is why: in the same way that I started Vanguard where everyone else finished, I’m preparing/being prepared for my own ministry in a conventionally backwards way. You often hear that people are called to other countries to be missionaries, not the other way around. But I came to another country to discover and develop my calling. And as backwards as it may seem, this season, being a season of pruning and refinement, was more for me and my development than it was for me to pour out and give.
But that’s going to change when I’m ready to come back.
I feel like I’ve been going forwards walking backwards this year – it explains why things have been hard (especially at first), why things have, at times, been unnervingly awkward for me up until recently, and why I have had such a hard time seeing where I am going to end up in the future. But I realise now, that even though I’ve been walking backwards, the Holy Spirit has been walking right beside me, guiding me. While I’m walking backwards, He’s facing forwards, and as long as I keep my eyes on Him, I’m okay. He helps me through the twists and turns, the winding of the road, the bumpy, broken places. Only He knows where we’re going and what’s ahead, and recently, He’s allowed me to glance back now and again, but He’s been pretty clear with me on one thing: I’m not going to be able to turn around until after I come back to America. While I’m here, I can see all the things I can do to help (the mission work I came here for), but only after I’ve walked past the opportunity. And yes, it hurts me, and I want to be able to come here and tell you all that I’m doing so much missions work, but it’s not that time yet.
Now that isn’t to say that I haven’t done anything missions related. I’ve helped in the church; I’ve helped in a few of the extensions; I went and evangelised downtown; I participated in the mission trip/crusade hosted by Vanguard – I’ve done mission work. But it wasn’t what I expected, and I’m sure it wasn’t what you all expected either. I thought I would come home after a year here and have crazy stories documented on this blog, that I could retell to my friends, and use as anecdotes for devotionals, and I would make myself and everyone I care about proud. I had expectations. I’m sure everyone did.
But God specialises in a lot of things, and breaking and exceeding expectations is one of those things. This year didn’t happen the way I thought it would, but that doesn’t mean it happened wrong. I’m more than pleased with this outcome, because there is more potential for growth now than I ever could have dreamt of on my own.
And I couldn’t have done it without Vanguard – I learned a lot, saw and experienced a lot (like what happens when people practice what they preach and follow what they learn in Vanguard), and met/formed connections very important people that will be part of my ministry in the future. Not to mention I was put in an environment where I needed to at least understand Spanish to succeed.
I’m excited to come back to Chicago, not only because I miss you guys, but also because I know that I’ll be finishing this season and starting a new one back in America, and I can’t wait to see how God will exceed my expectations when the next season comes around.