As I reflect on the past year, I am overcome with gratefulness. We want to thank all of you who have so generously supported us over the past 2 and a half years, whether through finances, prayer, encouragement, and just checking in on us. Jason and I are completely overcome by the generosity and the friendship of Good News Community Church. I’m sure there are many who have blessed us financially and prayed for us that we don’t even know about, so we thank you for your support!! We truly felt your prayers and know that we could not have done what we did without all of you. You have been a tremendous blessing to us.
The past 2 and a half years, since we left home and joined YWAM, have been an incredible journey. When we left home in July 2016, I was full of expectancy of what God would do in our lives. Even though I had that expectancy, I was not prepared for the crazy plan that God had in store for us. Our journey was far different than I ever imagined, as well as far greater than I had imagined. The past 2 and a half years have been both the most difficult and the most fulfilling years of my life, and our time was filled with many struggles, triumphs, and lots of tears!
Celebrating the New Year reminded me of last New Year, when we were in Hawaii. We had already been in Hawaii for about 6 months by then. Although Hawaii was beautiful, I really did not want to be there. Our first 6 months in Hawaii was very lonely for me, and I constantly missed home and the people we had met in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Manila. I didn’t have much community, and I was too busy, or so I thought, to try to create community. I was doing school full time and serving at the YWAM campus, and pretty much every spare moment I had was spent studying. I was trying to do things out of my own strength, instead of relying on God. (I’ll explain that in a minute.) As a result, I was feeling a bit defeated and dry, and I blamed it on Hawaii.
However, on New Year’s Eve last year, my perspective completely changed. Jason and I were standing on the back lanai (porch) of the house we were staying at, watching fireworks. All of a sudden, I was completely overcome with love for the people and land of Hawaii. It was as if my eyes were opened to the beauty of Hawaii for the first time. From then on, I absolutely loved Hawaii and its beautiful and diverse people.
Now, back to doing everything from my own strength. It really is quite confusing, relying on God. How do you rely on Him for something like school? I mean, it’s up to me to put in the effort and learn and get good grades. So, I went through cycles of doing it all in my own strength, putting the weight of the world on my own shoulders, and then realizing I couldn’t do it all on my own and crying out to God and feeling defeated and guilty for trying to do on my own.
After several cycles of this and some mini melt-downs, during which Jason would be amazing, letting me cry on his shoulder and comforting me, assuring me that I was intelligent enough and able to do it, I finally realized what it meant to rely on God. Sure, I did have to take it upon myself to learn and work for success, but relying on God, for me, meant to truly trust Him. He is the one who nudged me to get my Master’s degree as a Nurse Practitioner. He had brought me this far, and he wouldn’t leave me high and dry now. Philippians 1:6 assured me: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”. I learned that the key to doing school through Christ’s strength was to just stay surrendered to Him. When I trust the work that He is doing in and through me and trust in His promises, then I am drawing from His strength and not my own. I learned just how incredibly weak and fragile I am through this process, but, as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, weakness is actually a blessing that allows us to see God’s strength work through us. Although it sounds a bit counterintuitive, realizing my weakness was quite freeing. I know I can’t do it all on my own, so why carry the weight of trying? Instead, I can embrace my weakness and trust God for the strength to do what He has called me to.
When we left home, I was about half way through my degree. When God told us to leave, I was shocked. He told me to do this, and now that I was half-way through, He tells us to leave, not knowing if I would ever be able to finish it?! But God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, made a way for me not only to finish it, but to do it while being in missions.
While in Hawaii, I was part-time volunteer staff with YWAM’s health care clinic. The clinic was open to YWAM staff, students, and their families 3 evenings per week, to get health care for a very small fee. Affordable health care is such a huge blessing to YWAMers, who are constantly relying on God for finances. For only $10, they could come see a provider at the clinic. All of the health care professionals that staffed the clinic were also employed by Aloha Kona Urgent Care, an urgent care that is YWAM-affiliated and that serves the community of Kona. I also worked here occasionally. All of the staff at the urgent care love Jesus and are committed to providing holistic care for patients through the scope of Christ’s love. Working here opened my eyes to what Christian health care can and should look like. Everyone, from front desk staff, to nurses, to providers, were quick to offer prayer and emotional support to patients. It was an incredible experience, learning how to care for people’s emotional and spiritual needs in a US health care setting. I never imagined that anything like that existed!
God was preparing me for Christian health care through my clinicals that I did for school, as well. My nurse practitioner program through SLU was primarily online, and I was required to do a certain number of clinical hours with a primary care clinic in the community. As you may remember from a blog that I posted over a year ago, it was extremely hard for me to find a physician’s office that would allow me to do clinicals with them. I was afraid I may have had to withdraw from the program, because I couldn’t find a clinical site. However, God not only provided a site, but it was a physician’s office in which all of the providers were Christians who would pray with their patients and provide spiritual and emotional care, in addition to medical care. I have never witnessed a doctor’s office like it. One time, one of the doctors and I were seeing a patient together, and after the patient mentioned a near-death experience, the doctor said, “I’m going to take off my ‘doctor’s hat’ here for a minute. Do you know what would happen to you if you died? Do you know that you can be sure about where you’re going when you die?” It was awesome! I think that Christians feel like they have to hide their faith in the ‘real world’ at times, but I got see what it looks like to display it boldly within a US health care setting.
As our time to return to Missouri approached, you can see why I was reluctant to leave. I was in the perfect environment to exercise my faith while providing health care. The doctor’s office I mentioned even offered me a job there as a nurse practitioner. In my eyes, that is the most ideal place I could dream of to practice. I couldn’t help but feel like we were leaving the ‘Promised Land’ by leaving Kona. We had an amazing Christian community around us, Jason was thriving in his Bible school, and I was loving health care in this Christian environment. I shared this with Jason, and he asked me, “What if this is the desert? What if we’re leaving here to enter the Promised Land?” Jason, who loves the Old Testament, gave me some perspective through the eyes of an Israelite. He explained that the Israelites really came to know God while wandering in the desert. It was here that they learned to trust God as their provider and saw His faithfulness and power first-hand. That is exactly what we experienced in our time in missions. We really learned who God is and learned to trust Him. Jason went on to say that the Promised Land wasn’t all milk and honey. The Israelites had to continue to trust God and fight many battles to claim the Promised Land as their own. We feel that this next season back in Missouri will be much like the Israelites claiming the Promised Land. We will have to fight many spiritual battles to claim our ‘land’ and take hold of all that God has for us here.
As I was reflecting on my time in Kona and how I was consistently in the midst of Christian health care, I realized that many people who came before me had to fight to establish the climate that the urgent care and the doctor’s office have. When I was there, I was simply standing on the foundation of faith that someone else had already established. To experience that kind of environment here, I will have to be the one in the trenches, fighting to establish a foundation of faith wherever I end up practicing. It is a bit daunting thinking about it, but I have seen God’s faithfulness for myself, and I know that it is possible. And the result is oh-so-sweet!
I have very little idea of what my career may look like. I honestly have not even started looking or putting out any feelers as to what the job market for nurse practitioners here looks like. I would really appreciate prayers for direction and for doors to open where God would have me practice. I also need prayers for boldness to establish the kind of faith environment that I experienced in Kona. Other prayer points include finding a car and a place to live! Our parents have been generously housing us, but I’m sure they don’t want us around forever! Haha!!
Thanks for reading as we begin to process all that God has done in our lives the past couple of years. I’m sure there will be more posts coming, as we reflect on our time in missions. Thank you again for all you’ve done!!
Jason and Monica