What God Taught Me In Swaziland

As this incredible journey is coming to a close, I want to reflect over a few of my journal entrees from this past month. God has taught me so much and I truly feel like I’ve grown closer to Him. This is a little bit personal, but I’ve thought and prayed about it and I feel like God wants me to share it with you. I’ve narrowed it down to 13 and no one is more important than the other, but these were definitely the most practiced.

Trust – As a girl who enjoys planning out my schedule so I can expect what my day will be like, this trip has been difficult for me. We were never really told any specifics about this trip. At training camp we were told to let go of all expectations of our trip and trust God because He has a plan. We don’t really ever know what the plan is until it happens. This has definitely taught me to live in the moment and “let tomorrow worry about itself.” Not knowing what was going to happen or what our living arrangements would be like while traveling was a little stressful. But I really had to rely on God and trust that he would take care of me and all the little details. And He did. I’ve learned that letting go of all expectations and trusting God really opened my eyes to all that He does. I can now sit back and watch all that God does instead of being let down or discouraged by things not working out like I had planned.

Identity – I have always been one to worry about what people think about me. Being a Pastors daughter, I have a lot of eyes on me. I feel the need to impress everyone I come in contact with. I’ve learned this trip that it doesn’t matter what people think of me. I am a daughter of the King. I am a Christian – a Christ follower. Yes, I read the bible and I pray and worship Jesus. I also mess up a lot, but He still loves me. I am Abigail. Even though some may not like or agree with me, Jesus loves me for who I am. That is enough for me.

Love – This is a big one. God’s love amazes me. He is never ending, forever present, and unconditional. I still don’t truly understand how he can love me, a sinner so much. His love is perfect and I am overwhelmed. His love is also eternal. It just keeps coming and never stops. His perfect love overwhelms me, but I’ve learned on this trip to accept and embrace it.
Allowing Him to love me also allows me to love myself for who I am. He loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me, my sin, guilt, and shame. It would be all for nothing in my life if I continued to live in said sin, guilt and shame. I’ve had to let go of all that and love myself. My past is behind me. I no longer live that life anymore. I’ve been made new.
I’ve also learned that I’m not the only one that needs his love. Everyone needs it. Your Grandma needs it. That guy working at the McDonalds needs it. The child suffering from HIV and AIDS at a care point in Swaziland needs it. We as Christians are told to give those around us love. And not our love. No, our love is only temporary and isn’t strong enough. We need to pour out God’s perfect love that He pours into us. Some may only see God’s love through us. That is an important job for us. We are like the deliverer of God’s love. If we don’t do our job then no one gets the delivery. God doesn’t actually need us for this job, but he has chosen to give us the privilege of it. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking it very seriously.

Passion – This one scares me. I’m not necessarily afraid of it, but I’m afraid of losing it. The bond that I’ve had with God on this trip has been incredible. To the point of feeling his presence that I’m bawling with my face on the ground was like no other. I hear Him speak to me and I’m listening. When I’m taken from all comforts I’ve ever known, the intimacy I have with Him and relying on His comfort is precious. I see Him at work in and around me. I’m excited to see how His plan plays out and overjoyed to watch His Kingdom grow. I want this hunger and joy and excitement to continue after I get home. I want it to spread through others I talk to. I want the fire in me to spread in them.

Comfort – This trip has stripped me of all the comforts of everything I’ve known. My home, family, friends, food, clothes, water. All month we’ve been sleeping on the ground, showering in ice cold water, doing our business in portapotties, washing clothes in a bucket, had no internet, and I’ve hated it but also loved it. Missions is so uncomfortable and awkward that a part of me hates them. But the reliance on God that is critical to have to get through everyday is beautiful. I have to rely on Him because He is all I have. It’s sad that I have to have everything taken away in order to truly see and hear him, but it’s true. I really lean on my family to take care of, help, and just support me. This trip I haven’t had them and it’s been hard. But my God is a jealous God and He wants all of my attention. Although I love my parents, they are not my priority. God is my priority. He is my Daddy and my Mama. He will take care of me and comfort me. Even though it’s hard to be out of my comfort zone, I can’t truly be comforted by Him unless I step out.

Intentional – It’s easy to get caught up in this world and just go through the motions of life. I was made for so much more than that, though. I often find myself being “lukewarm” and just getting by. I was created to be intentional. I was made to seek God and strive to do as He commands in all areas of my life. Everything that I do should be intentional. Intentionally spend time alone with God. Intentionally be in prayer and constant conversation with Him. Intentionally speaking life and love to all those around me. Intentionally keep myself and my body healthy. Intentionally make all my actions and all that I do be for the benefit of God and His Kingdom.

Seek – God is everywhere. He is at work all the time-24/7. Just by being on the lookout and staying conscious of what He is doing around you, He will show you incredible things.
Also seek what you can do. God is constantly giving you opportunities to show love, grace, kindness, mercy, patience, and much more. Just be on the lookout for things that you can say or things you can do for people that will help and encourage them. It’s amazing what will happen when you seek.

Prayer – Prayer is extremely powerful and I feel like it is underestimated. Prayer can do SO much. Just being able to talk to God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, our King, and Creator of everything we know is truly incredible. God is with you throughout your whole day, everywhere you go. He wants you to communicate with Him. He is always willing to listen and longs to hear your voice. I am easily distracted in this world and often get caught up being of it and not just in it. I have found that keeping communication with God helps me to stay focused on the reasons why I am here. It helps me have heavenly thoughts and intentions as I go throughout my day.

Quiet time – It is so important to spend time alone with God everyday. Just one on one time with him. When pouring out all of your time, energy, strength, emotions and love, you have to come back to God to refill yourself. Quiet time is like a cool drink of water when you’ve gone a while without it. You’re refocused, reenergized, encouraged, and reminded what you’re here for.
Quiet time is also a great place that God can speak to you. He can give you some really constructive or encouraging feedback in this one on one time with him.

Spiritual warfare – Spiritual warfare is real. There is a constant battle going on in our lives and in all the lives around us. The children that we were working with are bringing evil spirits with them. I feel them everyday. I come home at night spiritually exhausted and weighed down from the battle all day. Satan is fighting so hard to discourage us, to distract us, to tempt us. It is incredibly hard, but so worth it. The fact that we are coming into these care points is driving the enemy away. The presence of God inside of us and the passion we have for Him makes the enemy flee. It’s easy to get discouraged, but the presence of God being there is already changing the place. The prayer being poured over those kids and the care point is making a difference. From the first day until now I see a difference in their faces, their smiles, trust, faith, love for each other, and hope. Spiritual warfare is real, but our side is going to win.

More – I need more of God. The more of Him the better. The more I put Him into my life, the better literally everything is. More of His presence makes the enemy flee. More of His wisdom guides me in the decisions I make. More of His love covers my sins and the sins of others. More of His strength helps me through any and every situation that He puts me through. More of Him means less of me and the less that there is me the better. I need more of God. “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

Thankfulness – I’ve learned to be thankful in everything. The fact that I am here on this earth taking a breath is a reason to be thanking God. He is so good. I don’t deserve anything, yet he gives me so much. I am thankful for my past and that I can look back and see all that He’s done for me. I am thankful for my future because I know and can trust that He will bless me in it. I am also thankful for the present because I know that I am exactly where He wants me to be in His perfect plan.
I don’t understand His blessings. They don’t seem to be equally distributed. The people of this country are so poor and broken. People are sick, starving, naked and thirsty. I don’t understand why that’s not me on the side of the road with no job due to being crippled and begging for money? I know God is a big God and He has everything handled, but I just don’t understand His plan. Regardless of my misunderstanding, I can be thankful of the abundance that He has blessed me in because this trip has shown me all that I have.

Mission trip – When I get home, this mission trip isn’t over. Just because I’m not in Africa kissing cute babies doesn’t mean that I’m not a missionary. I’m on the mission field literally everywhere I go. God is constantly putting people in my life to minister to and serve. As a Christian, my entire life is a mission trip. I’m called to serve others, love others, and put others before myself. Just because I’m back in America doesn’t mean that I can let loose and not care. I still need to be intentional in all I do. When I became a Christian, I devoted myself to being a lifetime missionary.

When I signed up for this trip, I had full intentions of God using me to change the world, but He actually changed my world. I know He did great works in Swaziland, but He did huge works inside me. My perspective has changed completely and I’ve found what’s really important. This trip has been so good. God has been so good.

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