Saturday, January 17, 2009

There is Time

"I was sexually assaulted in Nicaragua and I've never told anyone until...well, just now."

Her face emotionless. She looked straight ahead, scared to seek a response from any one of us gathered around the candlelit table.

"I'm so sorry," I said.

"It's ok."

"Ummm, no it's not ok and I'm really sorry that it happened to you."

Friday night I sat at a friends house with 7-8 other girls, all of which served as student missionaries last year. We gathered around a table with good food and good company, something that honestly surprised me.

I was kind of dreading the evening just because I don't know any of the girls very well and even though we are all SM's I've had a hard time connecting with some of them. But as we started talking the stories started pouring out: stomach issues, feeling forgotten by people at home, feeling helpless to help more, being frustrated with the very people we came to help, feeling far from God.

"I felt abandoned by the missionaries I was living with. I can't trust adults anymore. My mom and I are not as close anymore, we've stopped really seeing eachother. There is a lot of hurt there."

Or, "It was not what I expected. It was the hardest year of my life. My year was not what I thought I was getting myself into from what I was told before I left."

We all seemed to have similar feelings and experiences. Sure we went to Cambodia, Prague, Laos, Nicaragua, the Amazon, Venezuela, and Albania, but oh, how it rocked our world.

I talked about what made my year difficult, mostly my struggles with a different culture, particularly the Cambodian men. How I hated them all for a long time and felt attacked at every side. Afraid to go outside, terrified to be alone, and angry with God.

Someone asked me, "Would you ever recommend someone to go overseas?"

"Oh, absolutely. People have such diverse experiences and it wasn't just "being" an SM that was hard, it was all the baggage and bias I brought into it. If someone was planning to go I'd tell then to thoroughly research where they are going, and, take a good friend!"

Walking home, I wondered If we are feeling the same way, why haven't we talked about it until now? I've been ready and willing to talk and work through my experiences since I got back, but no one seemed to share my thoughts or feelings until now. Either way I'm grateful.

I told them I am writing a book and they all got really excited because I told them that I hoped I could paint a very real picture of what being an SM can be like and share my story that way. I think it's a good thing. I have a voice.

Last night I had a dream about being a missionary. Most of my missionary dreams up until this point have been nightmares. But last night I dreamt I was somewhere in South America with Jeremy playing football with kids of all ages. It just felt right and true in so many ways. Fay was there and watching what could have been brought tears to my eyes as I said, "This is wanted my SM experience to be."

She said, "It's not too late. This is it. You're here now."

I have a voice. There is time. A few Y.J. Moses education classes under my belt and I'll be good to go, wherever that happens to take me. There is so much more. All is not lost. There is time.


Anonymous said...

dreams are so cool...