As promised in the last post, I have BIG NEWS. News that is in fact, awesome. I can’t give final details because I’m waiting to hear back, but I’m going to go ahead and share the general news because the HOPE61 website is already updated with the information.
But first I need to explain something about my heart.
For Christmas 1997, I opened a present that kept me busy for the next week. It was the Mandie series, books 15 – 23…the part of the series where Mandie, her friends Celia & Jonathan, and her grandmother spend the summer on a grand tour of Europe. I was intrigued that so many languages and elements of history, so many cultures, existed within one larger continental culture. Of course, as I got older I learned more about Europe as a continent in my history and literature classes. Eventually I became familiar with individual countries and cultures. “I’m going to go there someday,” I thought. During my junior year of high school, I learned about the people in one special country & felt my heart land right there. I dream of the day I’ll live there and work with anti-trafficking…but that’s a story for another time. My passion was increasing for the people in Europe, their cultures & languages, and felt God open my eyes to issues like human trafficking — quickly growing in even these developed nations, but often overlooked because of dire situations in other parts of the world.
When I was assigned to the Philippines with HOPE61 in May, I struggled. Ever since God made it clear that He was calling me to work overseas in anti-human trafficking, I’ve been peaceful and joyful about that work. But to be honest, accepting the place of that work was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been asked to do. I’d spent most of my life with a heart for Europe. I agreed to focus on the Philippines since that was where OMS thought I would be best for the next two years. But for the past two months it’s been rough. I could tell you pages of information on the Philippines; on the beauty of the islands, the unique culture, the devastating effects of human trafficking there. But my heart was far away.
I talked to Filipinos & to people who have worked in the islands and love them. I’ve written papers on the facts and looked at hundreds of pictures. This is the way I get to know a place; usually the way I fall for it. Because I thought that this was where God wanted me for the time being, I wanted to surrender. I promised I would. But despite all the compelling things I’ve read and heard and seen about the Philippines, despite (it seemed) my prayers, there was something holding me back. Europe. As I fought to find a passion I began to feel soaked in guilt. I felt guilty for failing to do what I’d been assigned to do and guilty for not loving the way I thought I should. But I kept trying. Then Joyce (my boss) emailed me to ask if I’d had any luck finding a job, and if there were any prayer requests.
“I must also admit to still struggling with the location situation, as we discussed on the phone in May.” I wrote. “…I’m a little frustrated by that because I trust your prayers & God’s answer to everyone about where to go. Still, I’ve been praying about this…and reading about the Philippines & everything I can think of! It’s just been very hard on me, and I’m not sure why. So please pray for my heart in this area. My head is very accepting but my heart isn’t, and I hate division!”
To make a long story short, Joyce called me the next day. She already knew about my passion for Europe. She revealed how conversations with co-workers a week or so before made this email from me “less of a surprise and more like enlightening.” Joyce told me that it wouldn’t be right to go to the Philippines if I truly felt so strongly that God is leading me to a different area. I literally cried with relief; all that guilt I’d stored up melted away and I felt an incredible lightness. So, fast forward through hours of praying & a few weeks —
I am going to Europe. I’m going to Europe! I can only thank God for giving me a dream, a passion, and fulfillment of it. And I believe this is only the beginning… My nomadic heart still wants to see the Philippines someday, to see East Africa and South Africa someday, to travel through mainland Southeast Asia someday. But for now I know that Europe is where a large part of my soul is drawn, and abolition is the work I’m called to fight for!
Now, as far as country goes. We are 97% sure of it, but I don’t want to announce it until we have final confirmation. There’s also the little fact of my missions partner for the next two years. Well, that’s another wonderful, fantastic story…that I must wait a little while yet to discuss.
Thank you everyone who has been praying for me and continues to do so. I am so grateful for and encouraged by your blessings and friendship. If you have any questions about this change, let me know! I will be sending out new letters when I get the go-ahead. Please keep praying for the job situation & email me sometime with an update on your life. :)
*Since this was originally posted, I found out that I am headed to Ireland! If you haven’t already, you can read about it at… www.tinyurl.com/Emily-in-Ireland