Kelly Culhane has finished her year of service in Malaysia as an ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer. As she was concluding her service, she posted this entry on her blog, “Walking in the Light.”
I wasn’t going to write another blog. I wasn’t going to come to happy conclusions about leaving, going “home,” because right now home is in two very different, far away places.
But this morning, just now at my last weekly staff meeting, I led the devotion. I had no idea what I was going to talk about last night. This morning I woke up singing, “Trust, trust in the Lord, lean not on your own understanding,” which I remember singing when I was little. Thanks, God, for being constantly present in so many ways.
Coming here was hard. Leaving here is going to be even harder. Leaving people behind is never fun. But trusting that God is present in the hurt, the excitement, the packing, the tears gives me a tiny bit of hope.
I have learned a lot about trusting God this past year. Trusting him in relationships that seem to be going nowhere, trusting him as kids seem to learn nothing, trusting him as I started from scratch to make a life here that now I am preparing to leave. And what does it say, that I don’t fully trust God as I prepare to go back to the people and the place that formed me?
There are so many things in my heart and my mind right now. But most importantly, I worry how I can adequately say thank you. Thank you to the 35 unique children I consider my precious siblings. To the six staff members who welcomed me completely, constantly providing for me in ways I could never repay. To the many aunties and uncles around Tuaran and Kota Kinabalu who supported me in little ways that made an incredible difference. To the family and friends back home who sent letters and packages that always arrived at the perfect time. To the members of the wider community who drove me to town for free, who taught me new words as I made copies or bought phone credits, who were able to take me home before I knew how to tell them where home was.
We pray a lot here in groups, all speaking aloud at once. It’s one of my favorite things. And since January, I have started every prayer with, “Father, thank you for this place and these people.” Then I continue to thank him for each of the kids and the staff, lifting up the struggles and joys they share with me every day. This morning as we prayed, I got stuck after, “Thank you for this place and these people,” completely overcome by the now seemingly constant flood of emotions. I trust that God will find a way for this family to realize the depth of my gratitude. And I trust that he will continue to provide for this place that has provided so much for me.