This afternoon I was looking for some things in a bin under my bed, and I came across the journal I kept while we were in Cambodia. The cover is a plain cream color, except for the top middle where I wrote “Cambodia 2011” on it and “Cambodia 2011” on the side so I can see what it is if it’s on a shelf. I smiled as I pulled it out and started flipping through. A few little momentos slipped out and I realized I forgot to glue them in when I got home. Things like boarding passes, pages that the girls at Rapha wrote on, and a beautiful little paper heart that one of the girls folded for me. I decided I should probably glue these things in now before I forget.
So I glued.
I was meticulous about line spacing and the pattern of the glueing, and what things went where.
When I was done, I flipped back a few pages to read some of what I had written. The last entry was from New York during our 5-hour layover coming home. The one before that made me cry. Here’s the entry — note: this is exactly how I wrote it. No editing.
We’re on a plane to Hong Kong.
I feel like my heart has been ripped in two. Part of me wants to stay in Cambodia forever and never leave and love on the people and build relationships and see Christ change lives. The other part of me, the rational part, misses my family — my dad, mostly, which is so weird because we don’t always get along. Not only do I miss them, but I know that living here, or maybe ever coming back, might be ridiculous. I want so badly to come back, again and again. I want so badly for that to be part of God’s plan for my life. Am I allowed to pray for that? What if God doesn’t want me to come back, but stay stateside? What if God wants me to go to Haiti? What if God wants me to eventually not do work for Rapha at all?
And their faces.
I miss their faces. I miss their laughter. I miss their smiles. And their voices. And the dancing. I miss the dancing. And I miss them teaching me Khmer. I miss playing badminton. And volleyball. I miss the hand games. I miss them. I miss (name) and (name) and (name) and (name), and (name) and (name) and Monkey and (name) and (name).
I miss their child-like love. I miss their trust. I miss their zest for life.
I miss them all, and I love them. I’ve loved them for years without even knowing them. How can that even be possible? How could I love them without seeing their face or knowing their name? And now I see faces and know names and my heart explodes with love. How could God not bring me back?
Oh, God — bring me back. Please. Bring me back to this place of beauty. The “Kingdom of Wonders.” Bring me back. Let me see their faces again. Let me hear their voices again. Let me laugh with them again. Please, God. You brought me here, you showed me your face, you gave me your eyes, you broke my heart. Father, please bring me back. Please, please, please bring me back.
In the meantime, don’t let me forget (name’s) face. Don’t let me forget (name’s) face. Don’t let me forget (name’s) face. Please, don’t let me forget. Don’t let me forget their laughter, and how contagious their smiles are. And God, may (name) and (name) and (name) know in their hearts and minds that there is no way on earth that I could ever forget them. May they know that I love them. May they know that my unconditional, unending love for them is nothing compared to your amazing love for them. God, make yourself known to them. Speak worth and value and love to their hearts. May the workers at RH love them much and love them well. May they speak Truth to them.
God, you are so good.
God surely does answer big prayers in big ways.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:4-7)