It was exactly a year yesterday since I said goodbye to the life I knew. I got on a plane, with three suitcases and a carry-on, and moved half way around the world.
Why? Because God asked me to.
Was it difficult? Yes.
Was it heartbreaking to leave loved ones? Absolutely.
Do I get homesick? Regularly.
Do I regret doing it? Not for a second.
This last year has arguably been the best year of my life. On January 15, 2019, I got on a plane with a one way ticket. I landed in the Czech Republic in the early afternoon of January 16. It was exactly one year and one week from when I learned I had been appointed as a full time missionary with TEAM.
For years I had dreamt of being a missionary, but I had no idea where to go, what organization to partner with, and how to make it happen.
I was also being held by back by fear and struggles with mental illness.
Until that fateful summer in 2017, when I joined my church for a short term mission trip to work at an English Camp in Czech. There, God changed my life when He finally revealed to me His plans for me to be missionary.
By that point I had pretty much given up on the idea of working in full time missions. I was content with working in church ministry in Canada while doing short term mission trips each year. But God had other plans.
That desire He had placed on my heart so many years before had finally come full circle. It was unexpected, and a little scary, but I never doubted for a moment. God said “Go”, and I said “Ok”.
It was one of the easiest decisions of my life, and without a doubt, it was one of the best. In this last year I finally found my purpose. It took a while to find it. I had some mess and trauma to work through first.
Now, after being a missionary in Prague for a year, I see the purpose of everything in my life that led up to today. All of the chaos, struggle and pain I endured was to prepare me to be here. It strengthened me and gave me the tools I needed to face the challenges of working in global missions.
In the last year God has repeatedly shown me how He can use my troubled past to help others. He has taken my trials and my hurts and created beauty from them.
I’ve developed relationships with Czechs who struggle with mental illness, and God has used my past and my experiences to allow me to help them. This has helped me create some deep friendships in a short time.
I’m not going to say that the transition of moving here has been easy. It hasn’t. But in the last year, I’ve grown in ways I never would have imagined. My faith and trust in God is stronger than ever. I am physically the healthiest I have ever been. Emotionally, I’ve stood firmly in the face of things that would have crumpled me in previous years.
God has been so faithful.
Even in the frustrating moments of language learning and adapting to new cultural norms, I have been able to see such beauty and grace.
In the times of loneliness and homesickness, God has provided a friend, a text message, a FaceTime call or a sweet memory for comfort.
In the ups and downs of adjusting and adapting to my new life, God has assured me again and again that I am where He wants me. He’s given me a deep joy that cannot be hindered or damaged by anything.
A month I was telling friends and family that for the first time in my life I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. There is such a peace in knowing that.
Life is not perfect. But God is. He is perfect in His plans, in His grace, in His love.
I spent so many years before trying to control everything, losing patience with God when I things didn’t turn out the way I wanted.
If only I had known.
If only I had trusted Him fully.
God is so good.
In a year of change – of ups and downs, trials and victories, sadness and joy, faith and doubt – the most important thing I’ve learned is that God is constant and His way is always the best way.
I’m so thankful I listened to His voice and allowed Him to lead me here.
And I am so grateful for the many people who have taken this incredible journey with me.
The encouragement I offer you today is to focus on His goodness. God is faithful. He is love. He is grace. He has a purpose for you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT