It doesn’t feel real.
And as time goes on, will it feel less real or more real?
I just flew alone to Ireland to spend 9 weeks in a little town, doing whatever work they wanted me to.
I’m in Europe… That just doesn’t seem true.
It’s hard to wrap up this past 9 weeks in Monaghan, but I’ll try.
There are a couple of reasons people typically want to return to places they travel. They fall in love with the place, or they fall in love with the people.
I don’t feel like I’m even in a foreign country, yet I so desperately want to stay here, so it’s clearly not the attraction of being in Europe.
I haven’t spent all that much time outside of Monaghan, so it’s also not the idea of adventure.
With looking back on these 9 weeks, I’ve fallen in love with the people of Monaghan, and with the ministries that are going on. I’ve spent nearly every day going out and loving on people, serving people, trying to be Jesus in the community. I came here, spent several weeks constantly answering the questions about where I’m from/why I’m here/what am I doing, and even in those moments I felt like I was a part of the place. When I walk down the streets, I feel like I’m at home. What I love most about Monaghan is that where there are needs, I’ve been able to help fill them. I’ve always thought my gifts and passions were so scattered, but here I am using all of them and more. The unique puzzle piece God shaped me into has fit so well here in Monaghan and I have been utterly blown away, even brought to my knees, by the ways I’ve seen God moving.
Why would He choose me? He could have raised up a musician from down the road, given her a love for serving, and sent her here, but instead He chose a college student from Tennessee. He took me and made me want more of Him and humbled me so greatly, to a point where all I want to do is give Him glory and see His kingdom grow. God gave me music, photography, and a love for people and church ministry and coffee shops and posting pictures with great stories of His goodness on social medium and in every single moment I’m using these things I’m watching God move. When I answer people’s hard questions, I’m hearing Him speak through me. So many times this summer I’ve just imagined God smiling as He faithfully answers prayers I’ve been praying for years and years. I’ve watched His hand work in my life as I’ve studied Jonah and Esther and Ruth, reading about His working in their lives and orchestrating every single movement perfectly into His plan. We all have seasons of doubt, but looking at my time here I don’t think I could ever again doubt His providence and sovereignty. Even when I’m working myself to death in school and multiple jobs, He has lined those up for me and I know that through those He’s equipping me even further for my future.
So when I get home, I’ll surely be stunned at all that has happened. It will continue to feel so unreal that I spent my summer becoming a part of an amazing little community across the Atlantic. I will wake up in my bed, wishing I was back here or wondering where the time went but knowing that I’m not the girl I used to be. And that in itself is so remarkably humbling. Never have I ever been so thankful of anything in my life.
I look back at the smiling little faces who have made my time so special, and all I want to do is stay and watch them grow up, and help them to know Jesus. I see the lonely faces walking into Hope, and I just want to sit with them and lend a listening ear and a cheerful smile. I read the little goodbye notes of the amazing Christians I got to know, and I want to stay and continue serving alongside them and learning from them. I see the people in the pews singing blankly and I want to help them experience worship in a real way, and I see the girls coming week after week to our bible studies and I want to stay here and continue them, so they will go out into college and into the world, equipped to live boldly for Christ.
The goodbyes I’ve said haven’t felt like goodbyes. I suppose I still haven’t realized that I’m leaving, or perhaps I just know that I’ll be back one day.
God, I in no way deserved the experience that I’ve had. I’ve done nothing to even deserve the desire to serve that I have, or the spirit of humility that you’re giving me, or the gifts and passions for ministry. I am so remarkably humbled that you would choose me for all of this. For years I’ve been asking you to grow me and change me and use me in ways beyond my imagination, and you have answered these prayers. I’m utterly blown away by the ways I’ve been used this summer, and the person that you’re turning me into, because absolutely none of it is any of my doing. I could never do anything to thank you properly, or to give you the praise and the honor that you deserve, so I once again surrender my everything: my future, my plans, my dreams, my life. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Monaghan, Ireland. The place where I learned what gluten is, where I saw more rainbows in a 9-week span than in my entire 19 years, where I made friends with people from at least 7 different countries, where I met my self-proclaimed #1 fan (4-year old Ruby), where I learned how to make lattes, where I led my first bible studies, and where I met people who have drastically impacted my life forever. So thank you, Monaghan. Let’s make the last day one for the books.