Becoming what I wanted to be when I grew up

I have been doing my dream job for the past 8 years.

Since the age of 12, I dreamed of growing up to be a missionary.

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An African Children’s Choir came to our church and my family hosted two boys. It was such an amazing time. We had so much fun and I was deeply touched by them.

It was the summer after sixth grade, the last opportunity to attend Penn Del camp.

I went and missionaries to Africa spoke.

I bought the tape of music, and sang the words in Swahili over and over.

I still cry anytime anyone speaks of Africa and feel so privileged to have some friends from various nations on that continent.

At 15, the worship dance company I had just joined was invited to go to Honduras.

My family didn’t have the money to send me, but I dreamed about it anyway.

We were able to raise the funds and though it was only 14 days long, I fell in love with this nation. I couldn’t get the people out of my head, the language. I was immersed and so much so, I experienced culture shock coming back to the U.S.

It was a shock to come back to my home and see how big it was, a shock that we have so many different colors and styles of shoes. Shoes, that are just a necessity for protecting feet- here in the United States, I grew up with it being common to have a different shoe for each outfit. It struck me as the strangest thing in the world that I had pink shoes.

My parents’ home seemed so large. I had previously thought it medium or even small-sized. I was so grateful to have my own room.

This only solidified my desire.

I would grow up to be a missionary to Honduras. I would go to college to learn Spanish and become a teacher.

Well, I did grow up to go to ministry school. It was amazing.

For the first time in my life, I had classes on books of the Bible.

I grew up in public school and never had delved into Hermeneutics.

I love, loved it. Each day was the best, going to a new class and studying the history of many books of the Bible and just everything I loved it so much.

We went on a missions’ trip, to my pure delight, back to Honduras. I had cried as our plane left the ground as a 15 year old. As an 18 year old, I came back to a different Honduras. Even the poor had cell phones. It was wild. So different.

But I still was in love. And dreamed of going back to teach and love on children there.

I came home from that trip, graduated from ministry school (twice 😀 :D).

I went home to PA, living with my parents.

I was directionless, depressed. I thought I had this exciting life and now it felt like a failure.

Then commenced the sweetest season of falling in love with my parents all over again. The friendship & moments we shared during that season are still a foundation of the relationship we have today.

I didn’t have much going on or many friends and I began to spend time in worship and prayer.

Instead of wallowing in sadness and not knowing what was to come, I just dove into study of the word and prayer and reveled in the goodness of a real God, more real to me than I’d ever imagined possible.

From there, I got a new dream. To join a place that ministers to Jesus in worship and prayer 24/7. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- it never stops.

And here I am, 8 years into this dream.

I’m a missionary to my own country of origin. It’s been so moving to stay. Not to go on the mission field but to stay and love my own family, friends and all of the beautiful people who have come here from so many nations of the world to call the United States home.

Who knows what is ahead, but I’m beyond thrilled to be living this dream come true.

Jesus is God. He’s man. He’s the one who bridges the gap between God in heaven, the Father and us, humans. He gives us all of His inheritance of light and life. In Him, we have the Holy Spirit. The One who draws us into the Father, into the Son and lives alongside of us as a help.

God’s light is never-ending.

In His light,

Ailene

To the One

For being a courageous person, I haven’t felt very fear-less lately.

Haven’t felt like stepping out.

And along with that, my goal of using this as a platform to hear others’ voices, a chorus of courageous ones together has not been happening.

In fact, I’ve failed to post someone’s blog who accepted my invitation to guest post after I was so deeply moved by her heart and asked for more of her writing.

9 months later, here is a powerful ode to many. To the ones who fight for alive hearts, here is a guest post by Deni Elise Gustafson. My dear friend and only sister.

To the one who grew up too soon
To the one who had tears that came much later than the moment of pain
To the one who didn’t hear what was needed
To the one who has experienced the death of so much
To the one who had their childhood stolen, their innocence stolen
To the one that had to say goodbye to hopes and dreams again
To the one that was broken on the inside with a smile on the outside
To the one who had to be strong when everything was crumbling
To the one who couldn’t join in with lighthearted banter
To the one who is fighting a battle unseen to the naked eye
To the one who cannot even voice feelings for there are too many and not enough all at once
To the one who has been misunderstood and misrepresented
To the one who never heard, “Will you forgive me? I was wrong”
To the one who is trying every day just to make sure food is on the table and beds are warm
To the one who feels like giving up
To the one whose health has dripped out through praying hands

To the one who fights for gratefulness against all odds
To the one who chooses to believe He is good
To the one who stands up for themselves when everything says to back down
To the one who speaks up even when their voice has grown hoarse
To the one who fights for a heart that is alive and feels
To the one who gives kindness and forgiveness even when undeserved
To the one who lets wonder live in childhood and beyond
To the one who lives generously in faith that provision will come
To the one who creates a safe place even if just in hearts shared
To the one who is trustworthy and keeps their word
To the one who is weak and therefore strong
To the one who lives like eternity is real
To the one who believes, hopes, and endures

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:23 NIV

 

If your heart is numb the first time reading, like mine was, let me encourage you to read it again a second or third time. The power of these words go deep and sometimes it takes a bit for a distracted hearts to settle in and feel.

Find more creativity by Deni give a follow on Instagram:

@missdenipenny and @theconfidentgiraffe

@missdenipenny

Blessings in light,

Ailene