Dear Thoughtful Person, April 5th, 2022
If you care to continue reading, I have some words to share with you that may or may not be worth your time. I’d like to share some of the biggest lessons I learned in my time overseas, some things I wish I had known before going overseas, and I’d like to encourage you, if at all possible.
Something I learned overseas: God is a great gift giver. No, but seriously.
It’s cheesy, and it’s a cliché, but God knows you; He knows what’s inside of you, what you crave, and what you need- sometimes before you even know it. I know for sure, from living my two years outside of the US- away from friends and family, or anyone other than two people who I had met through video chat- not just that God provides, but that he thinks ahead of time, plans out, and presents to you special, thoughtful, and specific gifts.
To me, he gifted things like, mom friends, sisters, coffee dates, lunch invites, teenagers who ask for advice, a cuddly cat, an apartment, free furniture, mentors, secret parks, sunset views, Bible study groups, life and laughter and young adults, enough food to share, an oven to bake brownies, a table for cafecitos, neighbors who are kind, people who saw me, kids who liked to play, a friend who knew the bus routes, and all of these other things that I couldn’t even sit here for long enough to remember. All the good things were from him, and most of the time, I know because of their timing or uniqueness that He thought, “This one is for Rosie. This one will make her smile today.”
Going off of the fact that God is a great gift giver, I hear him also saying, “Trust me,” and it occurs to me that he is pleased when we do.
Every time that we push ourselves into a circumstance that challenges us and requires us to find our reprieve in Him, we learn a little more how to trust him. We find shareable evidence that he is trustworthy. Ask me.
He is a great gift giver. He wants us to trust him. He is trustworthy.
Something I wish I had known before going overseas: Things take time.
Relationships take time, language learning takes time, building community takes time, getting to know your coworkers takes time, feeling confident in your work position takes time, learning the bus routes, finding the groceries, picking a favorite coffee shop- it all takes time! Walking to work- takes time, learning how to cook, brewing coffee, growing up- it all takes time.
So grace. (But say it like Tony the Tiger says guh-reat.) And patience. To yourself and to all. (But sometimes grace and patience mean forgiving other people, or asking them for forgivness. Even when you don't yet understand.)
Something else I wish I had known before going overseas: It won’t look like you imagine it.
As much as I know my happy, hopeful, artificially flavored imagination of the story won’t be “it,” I somehow still can never imagine what will actually happen. It won’t be the 100% good and joyful, brightly colored, commercial like mirage, and normally I try to talk that down, lower my standards to not get my hopes up- but that darker, less perfect image is not "it" either.
But what "it" will be, is real. It will be real and awkward, and true and authentic and yours. And that’s the comfort- because you don’t know yet how your story will be written, but you know that it will be written and that it will be your story.
Things take time. It won’t look like you imagine it.
Finally, if I can encourage you in any way before I close this letter, I would say, “Just try it.”
In the same way that I said above, “it won’t look as you imagine it,” YOU don’t have to look as you would imagine someone who would do this type of brave, adventurous sort of thing. No patterned hair bands, Chaco sandals, or wrist full of different languaged handmade bracelets necessary. (But I mean, if you’re into that…)
God created you with joy, watches you with pride, gave you your history, your specific testimony; knows your traumas, your celebrations, and has got some great ideas of where he can use your talents and your skills for the benefit of his kingdom. No one else can do you quite so well as you can.
So just try it.
But even if you didn’t believe any of that "go get'em mumbo jumbo" part that I just shared, and even if you don't think that your specific self offers anything useful, still Go, because God can use any warm body for good. It's not really about us anyway.
Just try it.
Rosie Sawatzki, GOer class of 2019 ;P