I will start off by saying that we serve a good God who loves us dearly. I have known for many years that God wanted me to serve Him on the mission field. That did not change when I entered medical school, got married, or had children. I still knew that was what God had for me and my family. It has been exciting to watch how God has brought our family here to Nalerigu to serve Him. I have to admit that I did have an image in my mind of what things would be like for us here. Tim and I had been here once before for a month, so I had seen the town and ‘knew what to expect’. We were so excited when we arrived. It was almost like having a baby, waiting and anticipating what is to come and being overjoyed when it arrives. Then the reality sets in. You have to get up all hours of the night to feed and change the baby. You need to make dinner, but she keeps crying every time you put her down. You just changed your clothes and fixed your hair to go somewhere, and he spits up all over you. Well, that is a little bit like how things have been for me here. I know that God has brought us here and I know that it is a blessing to be here, but sometimes I have to ask why. Why did you bring us here to this wilderness?
A large part of our first year has been filled with ups and downs and frustrations to the point of complete exhaustion. I have often felt like I was in a physical as well as spiritual wilderness. At times, it felt like God brought us here and just dropped us off. I would look for God and couldn’t seem to find Him. Things just seemed to sink more into a valley of wilderness. We don’t know the language; we don’t have many friends; we don’t understand the culture; we can’t find a church to be a part of; Tim seems to be working all the time; the girls have a talent for finding new ways to frustrate me…. Finally, I see it through all the distractions… what God was doing. He is bringing me into the wilderness for me to learn more about Him. He has brought out ugly character flaws to purify them. He has shown me His faithfulness in walking with me and giving me strength through this time. He loves me as I am, despite all this ugliness, because of Jesus. It is similar to the Israelites going through the wilderness on their way to the promised land.
These times of wilderness can be seen as unpleasant when we focus on our pain or losses. Or we can choose to focus on the fact that we will know and trust Him more at the end and find great joy in spite of our circumstances. I will not say that I have weathered this wilderness well or that I am completely out of this time of learning, but I can say that I am grateful that He has brought me here. We serve a good God who loves us more than we can understand.