One year ago today we landed at NAIA in Manila, Philippines. Our pug, Gordon, made it through immigration, as did we. Johann picked us up from the airport and drove us to the guesthouse where we spent our first week.
It feels like a blur, to think of it now. Scary and exciting and very much high on adrenaline and low due to jet lag.
We brought coffee from Canada which we brewed in our room. Trent looked for condos online while I tried to sleep. We explored a little and ate as much as we could and I grasped, only as much as I could, how my world was changing.
We’d spent those last few months in Canada raising the support to go. We’d spent the last few weeks waiting for the green light to book our flights. We’d spent the last few days finishing our packing and spending time with family.
Arriving in Manila, we’d reached the time and place we planned and waited for; the time we’d spoken and dreamed of from the time we were dating – we were together in the Philippines.
One of those early mornings I sat on the guesthouse balcony with my cup of coffee, grateful for its flavor and familiarity, and reflected on this transition and this new season through writing. The words ring true and powerful in my heart, even still, as God testifies through it that He’s at work in us and is faithful to provide and to show us glimpses of what He’s doing as we follow Him. Here are those words, typed close to a year ago today:
I know this feeling, I’ve experienced it before – once, though it only lasted a year or so. I had just started my job as a mobilizer. I just moved into my apartment and finally had things unpacked, settled, and semi-decorated. I was stable. There was no more support to raise, no more classes to take, and no more “So what next?” questions from friends and strangers. I was where I was. I had a job, a place to live, and a decent amount of student loans tethering me there for at least a few years.
I had gone through elementary school to get to middle school, middle school to get to high school, high school to college and college to a career. Now what? The feeling was uncomfortable for about four seconds and then it was freeing – no more “next.” I learned to paint a room, to manage money, and to get upgraded to first class on domestic flights – but only on Saturdays.
But the feeling only lasted a year (and the first-class upgrades along with it). There was this lingering sense that this wasn’t it forever, the desire was still present and growing stronger – I wanted to be married and I wanted to live overseas. Those two things, at the time extremely out of my control, drew me closer to God as I began to ask the One who guides my life for what His plan was in all of this.
One Advent, the season of waiting, I did a word study on the word “waiting” in the Bible. What I found intrigued me – throughout the Old Testament, it wasn’t a particular thing that people were waiting for – they were waiting on God. And while, for most, their longings targeted a specific thing – a home, a child, a spouse – the object of their waiting was God Himself.
So while I sat and began to wait on God for my future, He used the waiting to tether me to His heart. What I thought was waiting for a spouse or an opportunity to travel, was really waiting on God as He drew me closer to Himself.
When Trent and I started dating in late 2012 and when the doors started opening for me to move with him to the Philippines, the waiting took a different shape. No longer was I waiting for something intangible – but for something that seemed more possible, more comprehendible. The waiting then drew me to Jesus in a deeper way – as Trent and I dated from across the world and as I began learning more about a country I’d only visited for a couple of weeks.
Then once we were married, waiting continued as we traveled from state to state, from the U.S. to Canada and from providence to providence, raising support to return to the Philippines. We waited on God to provide our needed support and prayed with faith that we would be able to leave by the time my visa in Canada expired.
My visa would have run out in the middle of April and now I sit on a balcony at a guesthouse in Quezon City. We’re here – barely into our second day and about to go look at some condo units, our first stable place of our own in seven months of marriage.
So the thought strikes me – we’re done. We’re done waiting. We’re married and here and may have a condo by the end of the week. God provided our support and God provided each other and favor at the check-in counter so that all our bags and our pug arrived safely. But there’s a thought that immediately follows – we’re never done waiting on God. We may be entering a season where what we’re waiting for is not tangible, but that has never been the foundation of our waiting. We wait on God daily for provision, whether we can see that or not. We wait on God daily for each breath we take – which would feel cliché if it weren’t for Abby’s story of waiting on God for her daughter to be healthy and have her lungs and heart do what they’re supposed to do. We wait on God daily for grace toward each other, in sickness and in health, when waiting for something tangible or waiting on God Himself directly.
And so in this season, we continue to wait on God with expectation for Himself, His provision, His life, and His grace. We also wait to overcoming jet-lag, but that’s another story.(March 2015)