Here's a glimpse into what God is doing in Costa Rica Team Member Mary Kate Dever!
What God taught me: His plans are far greater than my own. FAR greater. Just this past August, not even a year ago, I was preparing to begin my freshman year at University of Pennsylvania, an ivy league school. I had at least the next four years of my life set, none of which I ran by God to get some sort of approval or anything. For some reason after I left high school, I felt as though I was able and well enough to steer my own plane. It was only four weeks after adopting this new attitude that everything started to fall apart. Four weeks into school I got two concussions within a week during a freak accident playing rugby. Not knowing I had the one, I continued to play and then lo and behold I sustained another one. I fell into a deep anger and hatred for life- something completely polar and foreign for me. Yet it took hold of my mindset, especially when I found out I wasn't going to be able to make up the work I missed which resulted in me needing to take an entire year off for medical leave. Right before I left school, the thought that I needed God in my life perpetuated my mind but didn't stick until I was home for about a week. The first week after having to leave school had to have been one of the darkest times of my life- having nothing to do but sit with my feelings, practically drowning in them. All of a sudden, I realized I could get out of this misery, step out of the darkness. All I had to do was reach up for God's hand. All that time God had watched as my self-propelled fighter plane took a nose diver back to reality and humanity- and right before I hit my breaking point, He wrapped me up in his love and took control of my winds. He slowly mended the damages and steered me in a direction I did not except in the slightest. It was then that He opened my eyes up again to one of my dreams I've had since I was a sophomore in high school, go on a VO trip and spread His love. After feeling such incredible love from my Father in such hard times, there was nothing more honoring than to be able to share his love with His people, my family.
How I saw him work: There are two specific instances that really stick out to me when I think about this, among the millions that occurred this past week. The first was through my team member Ruthie. Ruthie is 16 and literally so full of joy and love it's almost tangible. Anyway, when we get to the transitional home one, she is drawn to one little girl. It was only shortly there after that Ruthie ran over to me with distress, explaining to me that this little girl was missing her hand and she hid the fact, pointing out that she was obviously so mortified and self conscious. Yet as the week went on and the two of them spent more time together, it got to a point where you could just tell the little girl forgot that she didn't have a hand. It was such a beautiful thing to see the tangible healing powers of love and the mysterious ways they work. Nothing sort of extraordinary.
The second instance deals with one little boy that will probably forever hold a piece of my heart. This little guy is only 2 and a half and has to be the cutest, sweetest little ham I've ever seen with a laugh that could put you into a coma with it's adorableness. The day we took the kids to Burger King was such a special day because I got to spend a lot of time with him. I heard him starting to cry right before we were leaving, knowing he was probably exhausted, and within ten minutes he was passed out, drooling on me. It was such a beautiful thing, almost as if God allowed him to feel comfortable with me. It was such a blessing, to be loved so much and trusted by such a sweetheart. Then we proceeded to get on the bus to get ready to go and he woke up. It hit me then that it was probably the first time he was leaving the confines of the transitional home, and I could see the confusion and excitement in his eyes. About five minutes in, I heard a shriek coming from his mouth and immediately panicked. Then I noticed he wasn't scared- he was screaming out of wonder at the ocean as we passed it. I was so appalled and humbled to tears actually. He saw the beauty of life that we can get used to, and it was just so evident that he appreciated what God had made and proclaimed "good." It was such a simple moment yet one that I'll remember my entire life.
What I learned (or am learning): When I returned home, I had all expectations of being so happy to see everyone, sleep in my own bed, not have to practically bathe in bug spray, and continue on with the technology and normalities of daily American life. Boy was I wrong lol. I was definitely happy to see everyone, and I was pretty happy about eating some American food, but something felt off. I have been feeling very strange since I've been home. I feel like its not fair that I just get to return back to life in "better" living conditions while those kids are still left in the same situation: the unknown surrounding their families, living day to day not knowing what to expect. I want to do more for those kids, the very kids who broke my heart when I learned their stories and felt their pain. The very kids who put it back together with every smile, every hug, every adorable hug and incredibly contagious laugh. Yet I feel as though I left a piece of my heart there. There was no way I could leave such beautifully broken place whole- I left a piece of me with them so that they could be whole, in Jesus's name. Yet I still wish I could do more, and that's when I realized that I just really need to press into Jesus and ask for his guidance s to what to do with the stirring in my heart, what's next, and for the protection of my little guys. It's complete trust in Jesus and the surrendering to his all-powerfulness that's so important. Humans have limits but He has none.
What's next: Great question!! Lol I have not a clue, but I am praying that it will include VO. I fell in love with the organization 3 years ago and I would love to continue to live out "Go. Be. Love." again and again and again. But I've learned not to get too ahead of myself lol. I know God is stirring my heart so for a reason, and I'm trying to figure out what He wants next from me. I would love to adopt one day when I'm older and long term mission work is definitely something I would be honored and beyond blessed to get my hands on. This trip has set me afire and I just need to do something with my burning love for God. I promise this isn't the last time VO will hear from me!
Thank you again for all you have done for us, I can't thank you enough. Have a great one and I'm so sorry for the lengthy email! Once I get going I'm hard to stop lol!