Whew. I don’t even know where to start this or even what the point of this is.. I guess just to get all my thoughts down, maybe. I started this little blog when I went on my first “big trip” out of the country as an easy way to keep updated everyone who was supporting me.. As a 17 year old Senior in high school, the thought that I was embarking on a trip to Uganda, Africa for over a month by myself was absolutely thrilling and terrifying at the same time; I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I love thinking back to that point in my life and seeing what the Lord has taught me, changed in me, brought me through, allowed me to experience, and redeemed in and around me since then. I’m thankful for all of the recordings here of my time spent overseas throughout the past two and a half years (so far;)) for one, because when I read these (which I do weirdly often) I get to remember some of the most special people, conversations, and experiences and “re-live” them in a way, that I would have otherwise forgotten or just not thought about. Secondly, I love that I have these because I can remember where I was at that point of life during each trip (even though I realize this isn’t over a long period of time yet).. what I was struggling with, who my closest friends were, what I was learning about, what was most important to me, what I was worried about, the things that irritated me in each country, the sins that were revealed to me, etc.. It’s just really cool to see how the Lord has and is sanctifying me continuously despite my own selfishness, sin, and unfaithfulness.
So I’ve never written a post on here when I wasn’t out of the country or preparing to go.. (although I am thinking about writing about Nursing School throughout the next couple years since that’ll be just as foreign to me..), but I think that this might be a season of life that becomes very important and significant for me to look back on one day.. or not.. we’ll see.
I obviously have a love for traveling, but I’m realizing that the places I go and the things I see will not even compare to the day when I’m before the Lord and worshipping & enjoying Him forever. The only two things that will last forever are God’s Word and the souls of men- how invested I am in those two things is how invested I am in eternity. So I’m praying that I would have a passion and urgency to know God and make Him known that far surpasses my love and passion for traveling the world.. because the reality is that it is just that.. that world. Temporary. Even though I am SO thankful (gosh I can’t even come up with a big enough word to describe just how thankful I am) for how the Lord has changed and molded me through my experiences overseas, a lot of time the whole “wanderlust” and love for travel thing is all about me. I want to travel the world because of selfish reasons.
India. Whew. I don’t even know how form my thoughts into words. Since I have been back (right at a year now), there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t thought about that place and it’s people- those who are lost and those there who are laboring to see the lost follow Jesus). I know I wrote a “post India” post a few months ago, but the Lord is still teaching & showing me so much through my experience there and constantly changing how I think about the world, specifically India.
India was the hardest place I’ve ever been. Just hard. Everything about it. I don’t even know how to describe it. God had/has a way of breaking me through India. Using sickness, the heat, smells, stares, mountains, loss of independence and familiarity, etc.., and the memories and feelings of all of it.. I was/am constantly being forced to go before the Lord in brokenness and beg for renewed love and passion for the Gospel and seeing people come to know Him.
I was only there for a little over 2 months.. So I don’t for a second think that my time there was at all difficult compared to the m’s who have lived there long term, and I certainly didn’t face any of the challenges & sacrifices that they do and will have to while being there for such a long period of time. I am in tears right now thinking about the couple I had the opportunity of living with last summer.. the things the Lord taught me through their life and words. Just incredible. The Lord has been humbling me a lot through thinking and praying for them the past few months. One of the many things they showed me was that it’s worth it. They said that several times last summer, “It’s worth it. He’s worth it. We just know it’s worth it.” I just keep thinking about that and how true I realize that statement is more every day. They wrote me a “for the plane” note as I was leaving, and one thing she wrote was, “This is our prayer for you, Paige- that as you return to America and the comforts of home, may the Lord remind you of the billion people in India who live in poverty, in heat, in sickness, but most of all who live in spiritual darkness. May your heart be forever broken over those who have never heard.” …Man.
In all my sin, selfishness, and self-centeredness, I have not thought about the people in India in a humble, prayerful way all the time. Most of the time, when I think about my time in India last summer, it’s totally and completely centered on me.. what I learned, how I grew, what I liked or disliked, what I got to do, how it affected ME, etc.. ME ME ME. So recently, I’ve seen the Lord continuing to answer my sweet friend’s prayer. I’ve been really convicted about making my time overseas all about me, especially my time in India. The past few months the people of India have been on my mind in a beautiful way, by the grace of Jesus. I am hurting for them. I am hurting for them because of the physically poor conditions they live in, but more importantly because of the billion people who are living in spiritually poor conditions and have never even heard of the name of Jesus. So how in the world can I go to this place and not want to do something about that? How can I be content with a comfortable life when 1.5 billion people are on my mind every. single. day? How can I go to this place and make it about me? Somehow I did/do (sin sucks..). How can I leave and be okay with never returning? I can’t.. there’s no way. If Jesus is who He says He is and if He has rescued me, then He is worth it, and I can’t be okay with not doing anything about it.. I can’t help but want to join God’s mission in the world (India) because He has rescued and redeemed me. My soul yearns for something more.
So although I’m still working through some hard questions and feelings that I don’t know how to comprehend when it comes to India, it’s not about me. Not at all.. and that is something the Lord is/ will have to remind me of daily as I preach the Gospel to myself. He has given and is continuing to give me rest in Him & that He really is good and faithful in everything.
A family that I’m close to is preparing to move to India in the next year hopefully 🙂 ; this summer I have met a young couple who is in the beginning stages of church planting among Indians in Memphis; I have just started a nannying job for an Indian family; and recently I have been in contact with a college student my age who is from MS and has a ministry in northern India, and she goes back and forth to India all the time. It has been so obvious that the Lord is placing me among people who have a deep love for Indians and that He is using that to soften my heart and give me a deep love and passion for them and laboring among them specifically as well. All of that to say.. recently, I’ve had a strong and urgent desire to return to India. The thought of living there long term has crossed my mind several times this summer. Thinking about what that would mean and look like is hard but oddly exciting as well. I am reading books about India, the history, leaders, women, religions, etc.. Right now I’m reading two, one entitled Absent Friends: The Hidden Dangers of Being an Indian Girl that contains stories from women in India about the reality and impact of gender discrimination in the Himalayan Foothills.. and another book, Living and Working in India which is pretty self explanatory.
Who knows if I’ll ever go back to India, but I want to be prepared if I ever do. There are several reasons I want to go back, and it seems like every day I find another reason why I have to. For many in America, Asia is probably the most distant and unknown of the continents, but with half of the world’s population and ninety percent of the people being lost, it needs our attention. India alone has over 1.5 billion people, compared to the United States’ 317 million people. India has sooo many UUPG’s (unreached and unengaged people groups), which means there are no evangelical believers at all among that group of people and not a single one of them has ever even heard the Gospel before. I want to do something about that so badly. Sometimes I feel like I want to get up, jump on a plane, drop out of college, learn Hindi, move to a village in India, and never look back.. And then other days I feel like I’m so unqualified and hypocritical.. A lot of times, I’m too timid and scared to share the Gospel with my family and friends that I see weekly, and I think I can/ should go to India to make disciples? Who am I kidding?
But then Jesus gently reminds me of the beautiful grace of the Gospel again- that Jesus is my righteousness. I don’t ever tell people about Jesus because I’ve somehow become qualified, know a lot, am a “great Christian,” or anything like that, but only because Jesus has changed my life and He has commanded me, along with every other follower of Christ, to go and make disciples. I am completely unqualified, totally hypocritical, unworthy to even bear His name, much less tell other people about Him, but because of what God accomplished through Jesus, I am adopted, now His child, and a saint on mission with Him as He redeems this broken world. I am reminded that He IS redeeming the world, every part of it. And we get to be apart of that!! America and India and everywhere in-between, the God of the universe will redeem the world back into right relationship with Him, and one day I will be worshipping this King and enjoying Him forever with my brothers and sisters in India, and around the world.. What an amazing amazing eternity that will be!!!!
So maybe one day I’ll be back in India after all. Or maybe not.. Maybe I’ll be somewhere else, or maybe I’ll stay right here in Memphis, TN. But there is one thing I know for certain, one thing that has been proved to me over and over and over again, and that is that God is faithful. He’s faithful in relentlessly pursuing us. He’s faithful in changing us and our desires. He’s faithful in keeping His promises. He’s faithful in using our weaknesses for His glory. He’s faithful in redeeming the seemingly unredeemable aspects of our lives. He’s faithful in making His name great. How incredible is it that God chooses to use us as His means to bring others to Him!? He doesn’t need us. He’s worthy for us to make Him known. He’s worthy of each of us giving up our ways for His ways. He’s worthy of us being uncomfortable. He’s worthy of all of us and so much more. He’s so good, y’all. So, so good. I’m so thankful that He saved me, that He is my Father and I am His child. I’m so thankful that I get to be on mission with Him as He accomplishes His purpose of redeeming the world. What a gracious Father we have!