I remember sitting in pre-field training over a year ago as we talked about all of the different elements involved as you make your transition from your home country to your new host country. Of course, at the time I had no idea that one of the largest factors of that transition would be left out completely, but not even a global pandemic could stop my moving to Wales. The past month has been nothing like I expected it to be. Isn’t that just like God though? Always doing the unexpected.
One of the biggest differences upon arrival was the inability to see others. I entered into a two week quarantine the day I arrived. Having visited Wales numerous times in the past, there was a precedent set for seeing as many of my friends as I could as soon as I arrived. Obviously this was not the case this time. The motto for my journey to the field has truly been to “hurry up and wait.” Oftentimes we get this idea that because we have had a past season of waiting that another one won’t come, as if we’ve already done our time in the wilderness. But we see in the Gospel that not only does Jesus also spend time in the wilderness, but is in fact led there by the Spirit. This solitude happens before Jesus even begins his ministry. And throughout his ministry he returns to solitude to spend time with the Father. If this is a priority for Jesus, should it not also be one for us? Why would we rush away from something that Jesus shows us is crucial?
While the two weeks of quarantine weren’t easy, they gave me time that I would not have taken for myself or for God. It was a time of reflecting on what He has done to get me here. It was a time to transition my mentality from doing as much as I could as quickly as possible because my time was so limited, to knowing that my time in Wales is no longer short term. I can and should take my time and learn to plant roots here.
Coming out of that quarantine has been almost equally as difficult for me as it has been a time of dependency; on my colleagues, on the public transportation system, on frequent video chats with others, and of course continued dependence on God. I’ve been reminded of how easy it has been to say that I trusted God when really I felt as though I had some control and how much deeper and more difficult it has been lately to say those things and truly mean them. Do I really trust that He will sustain me? That He is enough? That He cares for the practical things, like finding a house and a car?
In the past couple of weeks, I have been able to find glimpses of normalcy, such as meals with colleagues and walks or a coffee with friends. These are things I have dreamt about for the last couple of years and where I have seen the Lord’s goodness the most. This year is different for all of us. But somehow in a year that requires us to literally count blessings to help keep our sanity, I can’t help but be filled with thanksgiving. This year feels like an opportunity for the world to experience this season of Advent deeply as we so greatly long for what is to come, for what is to be restored. We want to see the brokenness of the world healed. We know it can be done, we know that he can restore all things, and that is where we can find our gratitude this year.