Today is Thanksgiving, and I have much to be thankful for. I could write a very, very long list! I remember where I was last Thanksgiving- wrestling with fear that God would call me to go- to leave home, my community, and the people that I love. I wanted to be willing to go, but I so desperately wanted to stay. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that God has asked me to do that which I was afraid of. I'm thankful that He has chosen me, and given me the privilege of going, and that in spite of the ache that most assuredly comes sometimes, He has given me joy and peace in it beyond anything I could have imagined. Only through Christ is this possible. He has delivered me from so much, and is little by little, one step at a time, making me willing to go wherever He would lead.
Being here in general is an adventure, but some days contain more adventures than others. Yesterday was one of those. We're going to be away from the village for the month of December, and the time came to leave. Ordinarily, we would go by helicopter, but our helicopter pilot has been in the south helping with typhoon relief (side note: please pray for him and all of those living in the aftermath of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that hit several weeks ago). There was a good chance that we'd have to hike out, but we were actually able to go by truck instead. I honestly wouldn't have minded hiking, but the ride proved to be quite memorable also. There is a road going from the village to the main road... a very muddy, rough, and curvy road. The village is in the foothills, so it gets rather steep in places. The truck wasn't ready until several hours after we were ready to leave, but eventually, we were off.
You have to understand, I'm not a big fan of heights. I get uneasy on mountain roads when they are paved and have guardrails. And when the vehicle feels slightly more... uh... reliable. But there we were, Shannon and Bea in front with the driver, the girls and me squished in the back seat, and Chuck and the boys in the back with some other guys, bumping along, and I do mean bumping! At one point, the guys had to get out and fill a rut with their shovels so that the truck could make it through. It was quite an experience, and I'll be honest, I was rather nervous at first. I prayed through it and mentally ran through all of the verses I know about not being afraid and God being with us. :) He gave me peace, and after a bit I was able to relax and just enjoy it, bumps, hills and all. I was glad I had my camera with me, because it was truly beautiful!
The rest of the journey brought challenges of it's own. We switched vehicles when we got to the main road, but before we reached our final destination, it started overheating. After three long stops during which the driver tried to fix it, we finally switched vehicles. At long last, we arrived at our destination. Our dinner should have arrived shortly after we did (McDonalds has delivery here), but as a grand finale to our day, it took nearly 2 hours. It was a long day for everybody, but the part of me that enjoys adventure actually had fun, in an odd sort of way.
It was sobering too though. We drove past other villages, other houses, other people, who have no way to hear the gospel. Once again, with my will if not fully with my emotions, I placed myself in His hands, asking Him to use me in whatever way He would choose. Yes, I am still afraid. But I know that the same God who took my fear of a year ago and brought me this far is able to take this heart of mine and conform it to His own. "He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake." (Psalm 23:3b) Wherever He leads, following isn't easy. But He is a good and faithful Shepherd. And I am thankful.
Bea, Hala, Charlotte and me, all ready to go!
I never get tired of looking at the beauty of God's creation that surrounds me here.
Stopping to fix the road
Ooh, a real cow! Things you don't expect to see...
Funny when a cow is surprising, but a water buffalo is perfectly normal.
Squished in the back. Good thing we love each other!
Being in the Philippines with a Canadian family, U.S. Thanksgiving was sort of a non-event. But I am very thankful for my family away from home!
Everyone is having pumpkin pie back home, but we had mango and ube (purple yam) ice cream- yummy!