For many years I looked forward to the moment when I could leave my home country to serve Jesus Christ. In June, I started my application to University. However, in August, I was accepted to serve as a Third Grade Teacher in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands.
As soon as I possibly could, I made travel arrangements and prepared myself to say good-bye to my friends and family. While I was struggling to fit all my things into two suitcases, my friends tried to calm me down.
“You can take that out. You will never need that much!” one said.
“You are taking far too many things with you!” said another.
“Here, that can stay at home, too!” said yet another.
But most of their advice didn’t help; I was sure I would need all those things! It was my first big journey, and also my first time traveling by airplane. Since my journey started at a train station, my family and friends couldn’t accompany me to the airport. And it was there that I faced the first problem. For my second suitcase, I would have had to pay hundreds of Euros, which was far too expensive for me. So I repacked my bags to the maximum possible weight allowed, and left one of my suitcases there. A friend of mine could pick it up and bring it home later. The plan was to have my mother repack the suitcase and send it to me. My journey continued with one suitcase. It contained many of the things I thought were necessary.
Two days later I arrived safe and sound at the SDA School in Majuro. It was then that I realized all the things I was missing – important things like shampoo, lotion, and T-shirts, just to name a few. Advice from a friend kept playing in my head; she had told me to pack two or three T-shirts in my carry-on luggage. I hadn’t done it. In the meantime, my mother received my suitcase, and on September 14, it was sent by DHL, facing a long and lonely journey.
I had been told that it would take two or three weeks to arrive in Majuro. After the first two months, I was still hoping that it would arrive. Right around Christmas I stopped waiting and hoping. I accepted that I would have to live the next five months without it. But God was teaching me so much through this missing suitcase.
The first lesson was to always think positive. During my long waiting period, I was sure that God knew where my suitcase was. I tried to remain happy and patient. My friends here would hear me say quite often, “Tomorrow, perhaps my bag will arrive.” That was in September. Gradually, I found that it was possible to be thankful for the things we don’t have. I tried it, and it really kept me from becoming sad or depressed.
The second lesson was to always trust in God. Trusting God that He is taking care of everything helped me to stay calm. For Him, it wasn’t a big deal to send me a suitcase, not even if it had to go around the whole earth. I learned again that God holds everything in His hands and He has always a better plan for us.
The third lesson was that God would provide. God always takes care of our needs. When we put our lives in His hands, those same hands will provide everything we need. Sometimes, He doesn’t give us those “necessary” things. Instead, He changes the situation and we realize that we do not need them anymore. I am glad that God taught me that I don’t need more than He gives. Many times, God even gives us more than we need. I actually got everything I needed, and more, from my friends here. He likes us to be happy and to enjoy life. He sends us so many signs of His love and care. Sometimes we simply do not see them. However, I see now that the things that I received from others here were small miracles for me.
After waiting such a long time for my suitcase, and realizing that I didn’t need those things anymore, I stopped praying for it. I didn’t even expect my suitcase to arrive anymore. But God is so good. On January 6, I held my second suitcase in my own hands, here in Majuro. It was truly a miracle.
As I saw my suitcase standing in my room, I knew that it came from God. I realized immediately that it was not my suitcase – it was God’s. And that was the fourth lesson – God owns everything! While I unpacked all my “new” clothes in my cupboard, I recognized and appreciated that God owns everything. And surprisingly, I was ready to give everything back. Although all those “necessary” things were mine, for me it was just like receiving a present from God. And that is what I pray for now – never to forget that everything I own comes from God. All my clothes and toiletries are just signs of His mercy and goodness to me.
At home I couldn’t seem to leave anything behind. My things hardly fit into two suitcases. Here in Majuro, I learned something completely different. I’m thankful that I could learn so much. I am really happy about having my clothes. But I am more thankful for the lessons I have learned. We should be so glad that God loves to reveal Himself to us through miracles. Oftentimes, we just need to be ready to give up some luxury.
Lydia Jurke, originally from Germany, writes from the Delap SDA School, where she is serving as a Second Grade Teacher. She began her service in August of 2010 and will continue serving until May of 2012. Lydia feels that one of her greatest responsibilities is to share with others what she experiences with God.
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