Recently, while reading through notes I wrote during training, I discovered I had said I was increasingly feeling prepared for my year as a student missionary. I smiled and almost laughed. I could not have imagined what I would learn with God in the next three months.
I like to have a plan and for it to go as determined. I would like to say that after arriving here, I quickly learned that change is good and it is ok if things do not go according to plan, but that would not be true.
Since arriving, very few things have gone according to anyone’s plan. One minute I have been in the city, and a few hours later, I am in the jungle — a quiet evening turning into an hour-and-a-half hike to see a patient. One minute I am eating lunch, and the next, I am on an almost impromptu outing, hiking down a barely-perceptible trail to see a monkey. I have been able to hike to two different villages because of that spontaneity. That is mission life.
I frequently read Proverbs 16 in the New Living Translation (NLT). The first verse says, “We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” This verse has never been more true for me, and I now look at life through that lens. Instead of being discouraged when plans do not work out as I think they should, I find that often something better results. I try to remember that while I do not see how things will work out in the future, God does, and He is all-powerful, so why should I fear or be discouraged?
I am still learning to trust that God has everything under control. I have discovered that if you do not learn how to adapt to change, change will still happen, but you will not enjoy it. Learning to embrace change allows you to see the beauty of what only God can do. These very changes are some of the beauties of the mission field.
If you are thinking about missions and worrying because you do not know what to expect — not knowing might be for the best. God says, “I will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Take that leap of faith.