Author HEATHER VELVET JOHNSON
The air lifted us up. One big airplane separating me from what was to what is.
The end of my mission work in Mongolia.
As with the actual 4 year Mongolian journey, the travels themselves were full of ups and downs (literally). In those 23 hours I prayed, “God please let me not miss this flight” more times than I had on any flight before.
The mini Mongolian airport is nothing like American international airports and the “get there 2 hours early” rule doesn’t apply. The first round of “God, please get me on this flight” prayers started from when I walked to the check in counter late, a mere 30 minutes before take off.
The lady behind me at security was in the same frazzled state that I was in, as she was also late for the same flight. Both of us got stopped at security and as the security was going through our things there was a mix-up and she ended up walking away, not only with her laptop, but mine as well! Thankfully we called her back in time and got it sorted out.
My carry on bag weighed almost as much as my suitcase and was bigger than allowed. But because I lived in Mongolia for 4 years, I had learned the art of “pretend it’s fine and just do it.” I got a few eye rolls from flight attendants but somehow fit it in on each flight!
When you’re traveling with your life in your hands, you do what you gotta do!
At customs I almost cried when the official stamped my passport and told me goodbye.
I cried the whole time during take off.
I was able to sleep for a little at the Beijing airport and woke up confused (and drooling) thinking that I was still in my bed in Mongolia.
At Chicago I prayed those prayers again, wondering if I would be able to make my final flight with only 2 hours to transfer between international and domestic. Thankfully I did.
I arrived as scheduled and have been half asleep and numb ever since as jet lag has hit me hard this time. A 12 hour time difference is no joke!
I unpacked yesterday and now what?
I went through the vortex of worlds and all proceeds as normal. Life in Mongolia continues without me, life in Atlanta has continued without me. The earth didn’t shake when I touched down. The only one spinning is me.
The last 6 months in Mongolia were beautiful. This has been the year of pain for me in every regard, yet I’ve found so much beauty in the painful places.
Goodbyes are heartbreaking but beautiful and everyone does them differently. For some, they were too painful. Some people that I was closest to, drew away or didn’t say goodbye. Some said their goodbyes days or weeks before the day of departure, knowing that that on the day of it would be too painful. I heard apologies and thanks for the first time. Some who seemed stoic become incredibly tender and some tenderhearted became strong hearted. Some announced their thanks and goodbyes publicly in front of others, some through letters, dance, pictures, song and private conversations.
Brave hearts. That’s what they were.
Many people have told me that I’m brave for living alone in the slums of Mongolia and for doing the things that I’ve done. It’s a nice compliment but I don’t see it as true. To be brave is to overcome fear, but I haven’t felt fear.
What is brave is how I’ve been loved. I’ve been loved by so many young and old brave hearts. Nearly every child that I’ve loved and have been loved by had already experienced loss or abandonment yet they opened their heart to me. They loved me so much and I am overwhelmed by their bravery to love again and to love deeply. Their families, teachers and foreigners come and go but they love again and again.
Now that I’m in this new journey may I have that same brave heart.
May I fearlessly love again.
May I be brave and open up my heart to new loves and possibilities.
May I love and invest just as much in my home country as I did in my foreign home.
May I see the beautiful in the painful places.
Author ERINN BORG
Erinn Borg is the Cup of Cold Water Ministries short term mission trip scholarship recipient from 2017/2018. She traveled to Haiti with her High School Superintendent and other students from Parkview Christian Academy. Here's what Erin has to say about her experience as a learner in Haiti.
I've been to Haiti twice with two drastically different experiences both of which made me fall even more in love with the country and its people.
The first time I went to Haiti was the first time I had ever been out of the country and I was terrified but thoroughly excited to see what God had in store.
We spent the whole time at and around Good Shepherd Orphanage.
I and many others had our first street ministry experience and every single one of us ended up in tears as we witnessed the love of God in people who lived such different lives than us. I fell in love with our translators and the children at the orphanage, many of whom spoke very little to no English, and I promised myself that I would be back.
This year we almost didn’t get to go to Haiti, there just weren’t enough people interested and me, Hannah, and JD (my team mates) cried together at the news that Hannah and I would not get to be reunited with the people that we missed so dearly and that JD would not get to be introduced to these precious people.
Shortly after, however, my team leader and high school superintendent, Ms. Benson, came to the three of us and said that if we still wanted we could go with her but it would be drastically different from what we had experienced before; we all agreed immediately.
When we got to Haiti, as warned, everything was different.
We spent only a day at Good Shepherd with another group and then we were off to the mountains to help at Alpha and Omega School.
Even though we were warned, Hannah and I struggled at first with adjusting but quickly realized that we couldn’t be selfish, we were not in Haiti for us we were there for God to do His work through us.
Once we embraced that truth we fell in love all over again with a different side of Haiti and with new people.
We saw the city life our first time in Haiti, but it was the rural life we were introduced to the second time.
On our last day Ms. Benson decided she wanted us to see two other sides, the richest and poorest of the country so we had a balanced view of the nation we had been spending our week in.
We spent the whole day driving and what we saw was breathtaking.
I'm grateful Ms. Benson gave us this opportunity.
If I were to take one lesson from that day it would be this: God touches everything, Christianity is not just for the U.S.A., just because others' lives are different and plagued with different problems does not make them less beautiful. We are made in God’s image and that image is amazing whether it is poor or rich, sick or healthy.
That is why I go to Haiti, because I see God there. He loves those people and I too have come to love them.
Thank you to Cup of Cold Water Ministries for the financial donation to help ME GO where God called me to serve this summer 2018.
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