Well-Rested, Prayerful, & So Unprepared

Happy Saturday to my beautiful friends and family in America! I hope you’re reading this from your beds sometime after 9am. The perfect weekend morning in my book. Go get your coffee first, if you haven’t already. I’ll respect that.

The last time we talked, I was about to head to Fort Portal (two-ish hours from Bundibugyo) with my team for four days of retreat. A time of rest, prayer, worship, planning, training, and general fellowship. I’m back in Bundi now, but I thought I’d catch y’all up real quick.

Being the new kid on the block, I took every opportunity to spend time with teammates that I wouldn’t have gotten in district. That was a beautiful gift. I reacquainted myself with the vision of each ministry, listened to presentations on how to love ourselves and our teammates well, and brainstormed ways to tangibly push our ministries to the local church. I slept well, I ate well, I finally kicked jet lag to the curb, and I laughed a lot around campfires.

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Someone brought s’more stuff from America (!!!)

But if I can be honest? In some ways, retreat was hard for me. And a lot of you just read that and said, “Yep, here it is. Been waiting for this.”

Truth: Reality set in for me a little bit. (A lotta bit.)

There’s this beautiful tension between resting in the peace that comes with trusting Jesus and wrestling with the weight of what it costs to do that. It’s challenging to navigate.

There were beautiful mountain views and sunsets that took my breath away every. single. night. My heart sang. There was news of the passing of beloved Ben Ellis back home in Nashville, whose gentle words, guidance, and encouraging prayers on my behalf played a significant role in my return to this place. My heart broke.

There was team worship and corporate prayer for each individual ministry. My spirit was filled to the brim as I joined hands with this new community. There was the ever-present GI bug that made its way through several team members towards the end of the weekend; and even though I never got sick, I hated seeing friends suffer so intensely (SO intensely… It was a nasty one).

I swapped stories with new faces who have welcomed me so well and have quickly become family. I realized I wouldn’t be doing this life alone in any sense – the people pictured below are 100% in my corner. We’re all in each other’s corners. But then I battled an intense longing to hug my precious people back home (my love language is physical touch, you guys) as I missed memorials and celebrations and relationship milestones. I missed sobering and disheartening incidents at my alma mater, not to mention the rest of my home country, regarding deep division and hate based on skin color. I battled a longing to simply stand alongside the people I love most and breathe their same air. Process all the emotions with them in person.

Quiet. Stillness. Adoration. Confession. Supplication. Reminders. Refreshment. Repeat.

I realized this “new normal” was going to take time to establish, and that it’d always be at least a little uncomfortable. Dang it.

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Worship and communion with the team.
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Adorable DanMan. The ultimate stress reliever.
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Look at these wonderful faces! Would you pray for Team Bundi?

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Bottom line? I cried a lot. I laughed a lot. I kind of felt like a crazy person. But I had many conversations with the One who sympathizes with my weaknesses and meets me there every time. He does the same for you, ya know. He gets iton a personal level, after all: the anger at death, the frustration at separation, the broken heart. It was in those moments that I remembered the truth of this whole “life” thing:

Our Abba Father does not long for human hearts that tackle the hard things perfectly. He longs for hearts that desire to obey out of the love He’s shown us. Hearts that trust. Hearts that cry out for help, because He delights in giving us what we need.

Phew. I’m a mess, and it’s shown up big time during this less-than-stable transition. But it’s okay! Because Jesus has a way of showing up in the messes to redeem them. The messes are welcome. Holy Spirit, you are welcome.

Soooooo, yes. The hard parts of reality set in first; but the freeing parts of reality quickly followed suit. And I returned to Bundibugyo with a new sense of understanding that I’m not prepared for this… But Jesus is enough. The Gospel will find a way to be proclaimed; it can’t be stopped. Serving out of weakness is loving genuinely and with integrity. And we don’t have to worry about what happens when we burn out, because we will. But the Holy Spirit sustains. Hallelujah.

And as I rounded the mountains heading back to my Bundihome for the second time in 2.5 weeks, my sleeves were rolled up and my hands were outstretched, palms facing upward this time.

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I’ve since been settling into life here in Bundi this last week, and I’m working to establish *some* semblance of a routine. I’ll share once I have a better idea of what what my weeks will look like; but I DO know that each week will involve Sonship, cross-cultural ministry courses, 2-3 ministry days spent working on projects for Christ School (including discipleship opportunities with female students), and several language lessons. Be praying for that last one specifically…. I desperately desire motivation to embrace this language. I’m too much of a relational person not to! It’s just very daunting at the moment.

Christ School kicks off the last term of the school year on Monday! I’ve reconnected with a couple of students who’ve told me more than once that I’ve been gone too long.? I also received an invitation to the Prom Party coming up. Details to follow.

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Wandering the grounds of Christ School, praying over it and the students set to come back soon for term three. The bottom picture is of the gardens recently started and maintained by agriculture students! How cool is that?

Although I’ve relocated two bats from my bedroom to the outdoors this week, I’m confident that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, all of it. And I can feel your prayers. They’re such sweet and faithful reminders of the way God intended the Church to love each other and spur each other on. Trust me when I say I’m praying for you as well.

Gearing up to jump in with both feet over here! Thank you for loving me, both near and far.

-Ash

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