This is our last post on this blog, and for us, it is a little bit of a bittersweet ending. We have been overwhelmed and blessed by the amount of support that everyone has shown us! By the grace of God, you have helped us reach our financial support goal (which we had thought to be insurmountable) well before our deadline! And it seems like every day we are still hearing from people who said they were thinking and praying for us while we were on our trip- we cannot begin to express our appreciation for this!
Our journey has been wonderful, and God has been good to us in it. While our suitcases have been unpacked for a couple weeks now, we will probably still be "unpacking" the lessons we've learned and experiences we've had for a long time to come. And while the full impact of our trip may not be realized for a while, we have appreciated sharing with you what we could during these past few months.
And speaking of sharing, I (Mark) have a couple things that I learned to share with you to close our time together. But before I do, if you are interested in keeping up with what Hillary and I are doing in our lives, Hillary keeps another blog that she will probably resume soon, now that our trip is over. You can find it here:
Two things (of many) that I have learned from my experiences in Mozambique:
1. I have learned about myselfOkay, so maybe this is a bunch of things all rolled into one. But if you ever want to "know thyself", a missions trip is a great way to go. Remove yourself from your familiar environment and culture. Walk intentionally into situations and places that may make you uncomfortable. You will discover things about yourself that you did not know before- things that you may not like, but also you will discover, by their absence, the things you value.
For me, that meant I learned how impatient and proud I can be sometimes, and I also learned what a blessing it can be for others to show genuine hospitality. It made me want to aspire to be more of a welcoming and kind person to others, especially strangers and people new to the area. I also learned that I really, truly value relationships. And not just the superficial kind- I desire to get to know people in a deep way, to be able to share struggles and joys with each other, and to lift each other up.
2. I have learned a little about what it means to be a missionary- wherever you areIt's pretty funny actually, our home church is currently doing a small series on the "Missional Church", and much of what our pastor preached on this past Sunday mirrored some lessons I learned in Moz. Most of you probably know of the concept, as Christians, that we are supposed to be "in the world, but not of it." Well, working alongside Edgar while in Mozambique gave me a good picture of what this means. I remember a question he asked me early on in our trip- he asked me how many non-Christian friends I had. I had to be honest with him, and I told him that I virtually had no close relationships with people who weren't Christians. He was very surprised at this.
Throughout my time with him, I got to see him interact with people who could care less about God. Always respectful, always friendly, I saw him building good relationships with these people. His conversations often had some part of the gospel in there too, but on a level that the people he was with could relate to. Now contrast that to my approach to interacting with non-Christians: I don't. Too long I have simply built walls around me, keeping others at arm's length so that I do not have to get "dirty", so that I can have friends that don't make me uncomfortable in any way. But through this trip, I have seen how God can work through me, as a missionary, to anyone, anywhere- even at home.
So that's it. We're signing off of this blog. But if you have any questions or want to talk to us about anything related to our trip, feel free to post on here somewhere, or shoot us an e-mail, or call, whatever you want- we'd LOVE to talk to you! Once again, a huge THANK-YOU to everyone for their support! God bless you all!