I will get to the point as to not keep you in suspense, then fill you in on the details... I am sure this will not come as a surpise to many or most, but I have committed to stay here at Maria's Big House of Hope for another year (Yay! Yay! Yay!)
A few months back, my dad posted something on his Facebook page that has really stuck with me. In a link to my blog, he stated that I had "followed my heart and my faith to China." I could not have worded it better myself. It was the desire of my heart to work with orphans as well as my faith in Jesus that brought me here, and both my heart and my faith have been stretched and challenged here in ways I never imagined.
Back at the end of December, about a day after my friend Laura arrived, I got a call from Mikey on his way home to the U.S. asking me if I had thought any more about staying beyond August. He would ask me this periodically, but never needing a direct yes or no. This time though, he explained that there was someone inquiring about the preschool position and that if I was leaning towards leaving in August, that they would like to know so that they could consider this other person. My immediate inner response was "Of course I am not ready to go!" but he wasn't requiring an answer right then and was just giving me a "head's up" that they would need to know sometime in the next month or so. The timing could not have been better in that Laura was there and it was really good to process through that with her. Laura's immediate response was "I don't see you being ready to go anywhere in August." My thoughts exactly, but it was nice hearing it come from someone else's mouth.
A few days later Robin and Leanne arrived. One of Robin's first comments (while still at the airport) was "I've already resigned myself to the fact that you're not coming home in August." At this point, she didn't know that I was in the process of deciding to stay. Having three people that know me well and know my heart affirm what I was already feeling was such a gift. And for them to see it was so meaningful.
At that point, we had set Chinese New Year as the date for me to confirm whether or not I would stay. I didn't need that long at all. It wasn't a day or two before Mikey got back that I was ready to tell him I wanted to stay... so staying is the plan! At this point, it will be through summer 2013, but ultimately, it's as long as the Lord provides for me to be here. I believe that as clearly as He showed me to come (and stay), He will just as clearly show me when it's time to go.
My hesitation in sharing it has by no means been from lack of excitement. I wish I could share this with all of you individually, but doing so might take quite a while, so this will have to do for now.
I read this quote a few weeks ago by a girl serving in Uganda:
"People from my first home say I'm brave. They tell me I am strong. They pat me on the back and say 'Way to go. Good job.' But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for 'the least of these,' so that's what I'm doing, with the help of a lot of people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living."
That is very much how I feel. I don't feel brave, or strong, or spectacular; in fact, most days I feel selfish that I get to spend my days in the company of these children; they truly do make my life worth living. And I get to do so because God has allowed it and because of the help of many of you, through your prayers and support.
So here's to what's ahead... :)