Well, as those of you who have Facebook likely know, I made it home safely yesterday afternoon. All flights were on time, actually a few minutes early on arrival, and it was wonderful to see and hug my family and best friends! After we went to eat lunch together, my family drove me back to Delaware. It was really nice to be able to get home and see my animals too. I have 3 weeks until I return to work here in the states, but quite a bit to accomplish between now and then. I look forward to catching up with as many people as I can and continue to be thankful for all the doors He has opened to allow me to share the passion He has given me for helping others. I am excited to see my church family as well! Thank you for the prayers, words of encouragement, and support for my entire trip! I am not sure when my next post will be for sure, but I will be spending the next 3 weeks getting re-accustomed to the US, catching up with my family and friends, and preparing to return to work for the summer. I will again work 2 jobs and save to see where the Lord leads me next. I look forward to seeing what doors He will be opening and I am always excited to find out the connections that Jesus brings to me!
As for my last week in Argentina, I was able to buy a very nice garden hose and was able to get a good sprayer head for it. We did not have time to actually get it hooked up in my last two days because of how many different things I had to work on, but I believe they will get it together hopefully soon. We were not able to get the shovel, muck fork, and broom hung on the wall because the man who had the drill did not come Thursday or Friday, but I was told he would be there Saturday, so hopefully he put them up. I had purchased the things they needed for putting the tools on the wall and getting the new hose hooked up. I spent time both Thursday and Friday making video clips to hopefully edit together to make a video for future volunteers. I am trying to get some help from another volunteer that was in Argentina with the editing, but would appreciate prayers that I can get everything done before the end of the week. I was also able to work with some new bedding to show them how the stalls should be cleaned and prepared to maximize the amount of stalls it can be used it. It was bittersweet to say goodbye, but they were really sweet about everything! I left my muck boots for future volunteers to be able to use as well as part of the donation, and was able to leave a little extra cash, about half of the cost needed to buy another round of bedding when new volunteers come in a couple of weeks, so I made sure all the donation funds were utilized in the best possible ways! Thanks again to those of you who sent funds and prayed about the Lord showing me where and how to use them. 🙂 I couldn’t have made as much of an impact at the farm without your help! I pray the supplies will continue to be well cared for and last a long time for future volunteers and others to be able to care for the horses properly. I have a few ways to keep in contact with them and check on how things are going at the farm every once in awhile, so that is nice.
I want to wrap up my thoughts about my whole experience by saying the Lord certainly stretched me in alot of ways, but He was also faithful to continue to show me more of Him and bring me ever closer to understanding what a walk with Jesus following your passions looks like. I think one overarching theme for the whole trip was developing a much deeper, broader, understanding of love, what it looks like, how it moves and motivates us, where it stems from, and the different kinds of love. Although I am certain I do not fully understand it even now, I am aware it is one of the most complex human emotions as well as one of the most amazing gifts we are freely given from Christ and are privileged with the ability to share with each other. Another thing I have realized is important is to tell and show those you love that you do now. Many people wait until something tragic happens to express their care, compassion, love, etc. Why wait? The best gifts are not monetary and can’t be bought. The best gift we are able to give and receive is love freely and unabashedly shared with one another through time spent, words shared, and physical and emotional presence. I think it’s better to not wait or hesitate to share your love now, there doesn’t need to be a right time or special occasion to express your feelings. Christ wasn’t afraid to share and show love to others. That love isn’t always the same, but don’t wait for a eulogy to explain how you really feel or how much someone has impacted your life. There may be times when you sharing that someone has made a positive impact on your life is not only encouragement, but a witness to others. This type of thing is of course more difficult for some people than for others and it doesn’t happen all at once when you are trying to be more open and honest, but try in small ways first. Whatever you are most comfortable with a note, an encouraging call/visit to a friend, a piece of artwork or poetry that you were inspired to create, an extra hug, a surprise gift, and then continue to let that sentiment grow outwardly. We are meant to be encourages to each other, especially within the body of believers and our ability to show love to each other and be that encouragement will be living examples to those around us who are not believers. Everyone I have ever met would like to be encouraged and needs to be reminded every now and again at least that they are loved. It’s not that we forget necessarily, but the devil likes to grow the seed of doubt and whenever someone shares an encouragement or expresses love for us, it is a reminder that the doubt the devil tries to plant firmly and get to grow to overtake us, is just a weed needing to be plucked out from all the good that we have been freely given. Because we are human, we often long for physical/verbal reminders of our value/worth and one of the easiest ways to receive that is from an expression of love or encouragement. I find actual total presence to be one thing I really enjoy and am striving to give more as well. What I mean by that for example is if I want to show love to my family and friends, I want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally engaged, not there in person, but really looking at my phone, scanning through Facebook, wondering what else I need to be doing, etc. I want to be fully present when I am choosing to spend time with others, sure there are times when I do not accomplish this task, but I’m trying to put down my phone more and trying to coral my thoughts (definitely the harder task for me). In essence, don’t wait for some magical moment to say how you really feel about someone, if it comes to mind, tell them, show them, etc. If you are uplifting and encouraging others with your words and your time, you will have a lot less time later wishing you had told them when you could or hugged them one more time, etc. I believe it actually makes your own being uplifted because indeed we were created to be positive, uplifting, encouraging to one another and indeed that is the literal embodiment of what love is and the Lord calls us to LOVE one another.
Of course there are people we do not get along with or may have a hard time seeing past the things that annoy us, but loving someone isn’t tied to their perfection, it is a choice to love as Christ loved us in our imperfection. I’m not saying you need to be best friends with everyone, but you can choose to love someone despite any flaw they have. Love and forgiveness go hand in hand, but at the same time forgiveness does not mean an acceptance that actions are okay or things may return to normal. Forgiveness is not even truly about the person who committed the offense so to speak. Yes it is nice when someone realizes their wrong and asks for forgiveness and Christ indeed calls us to do this, but whether someone asks or not, it is possible to forgive an offense. Forgiveness is between the person who believes a wrong was committed against them and Christ or between someone who committed a wrong and their self. When you believe a wrong was committed against you, you need to release that person to God because God is the only just judge of what happened and what should be done about it, and holding on to the pain or anger will in the end only hurt you, not actually the person you are upset with. If you are the one who committed the wrong, then we really not only need to forgive ourselves because Christ already has, but also need to learn to open and willingly receive the forgiveness we have been given through Jesus death on the cross. If we continue to hold on to our wrong and try to punish ourselves or pay “penance” for our wrong doing we are actually saying Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t enough. How could that not be enough? All of this to remind you, that as I’ve been dealing with all of these areas myself during this trip, I believe it is important to share with others what Jesus has made very evident to me. Don’t hide your love for Christ or for others. In like token I’m not encouraging being pushy or shoving things on people, but don’t hesitate to act on your love for each other as Christ didn’t hesitate to love those around Him and show that all the time. Focus on forgiveness of self and others as another form/expression of love as none of us are perfect and will indeed need forgiveness at some time. Lastly, be vigilant to be a living example of Christ as much as possible, no matter where you are or what you’re doing as someone is always watching and you never know when you might be “Christ” to someone seeking to know/see/understand more of Him and when you know you mess up, be quick to recognize it and honest that it was a mistake because hiding mistakes never ends well in terms of our witness of Christ.
I hope that each of you have enjoyed keeping up with my travels and have been able to glean something from what the Lord has been teaching and showing me during this trip. I am thankful for each hardship and struggle as it has helped me grow every closer to my wonderful Savior! I could not be where I am today without His love for me! I look forward to seeing many of you in person and hope to blog occasionally whenever the Lord lays something on my heart. 🙂 Blessings to each and every one of you!