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Nearing the End of ‘Normal’: A REACH Update

By Shontel, REACH Team Indochina

Life here still looks the same on the outside. We teach at school five days a week. We plan lessons. We eat dinner with friends. We play team games. We cook. We babysit. We hang out with teens and college students. Anyone peering in wouldn’t notice anything spectacular or different from the previous months we have spent here. But internally we have been processing a lot, well at least I have. Knowing that in less than a month, we will be leaving this place puts a new tone on life here. It’s like I’ve begun to see things through a new lens. Sometimes that feels like a good thing.

Sometimes it makes it easier to be intentional, because I know our time is short. But other times, that lens brings into focus contemplating the future and stressing over looming changes. It’s hard, because as much as I want to, I can’t remove this new lens. I often long for the earlier days when life here didn’t seem to have a time measurement, when homesickness rarely crossed my mind, and when decisions for the next season of life didn’t have to be made.

“I often long for the earlier days when life here didn’t seem to have a time measurement, when homesickness rarely crossed my mind, and when decisions for the next season of life didn’t have to be made.”So I’m here in what feels like a new season. Many days I come to the Father saying, “I don’t feel like I have strength for today,” or “Teach me to live here, throwing myself into each opportunity,” or “Father, I feel too weak and tired, with too much to process, so be enough for me today.” I can testify that he is faithful in the days where he answers in miraculous inspiration and strength, like in my most recent lesson plan for our writing class. I felt so drained the night before and wished Kara and I hadn’t used the excuse that we were busy to wait until 10 p.m. Sunday to plan our Monday class. But then, as I showered and prayed, the Father filled me with a fun and well-organized lesson idea. It was a simple but encouraging answer to prayer, a reminder that he is here. I can also say he’s faithful when that same lesson plan falls apart. Instead of teaching an orderly class with students having fun and participating, we dealt with complaining third-graders and a student refusing to listen to my instructions which resulted in summoning the principal, which then led to rearranging our lesson, and then to me finishing the class feeling scatterbrained and unsuccessful. Yes, he’s faithful even in that moment. At first I couldn’t see it, and even now I don’t fully understand, but I trust he is here. A simple example, but through it he continues showing me that I don’t have to be enough because he is. When I feel inadequate and struggle with the lies of the enemy, that I am too this or not enough that, I press into my Father, asking for his truth. He never leaves me. His grace is enough, and he works even through my weaknesses.

He is showing me how to declare this over every season of my life both in the times I feel like a mess and in the moments where everything feels like a blessing.

He is faithful.

Over and over and over again, he’s proved this to be true. In every change of life, somehow I forget and doubt, but he keeps patiently showing me his grace and consistency. When he is my anchor and resting place, the concerns of this world slowly fade. I am learning oh-so-slowly to daily live out this truth, even while nearing the end of normal.

Please pray for all of the REACH teams as they think about leaving their outreach locations in the next month. Pray for closure with the places and people they connected with and clarity about their future.


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