The best way to describe what the EHA mission trip to Bosnia meant to me is to let you have a glimpse into my thoughts and feelings from the daily journal I kept. While I have left out many precious memories and experiences, I hope you will get a sense of the profound impact this journey has had on my life.
Tues, Sept. 13
– It’s early morning, having some quiet time before I head to work one last time before we leave. It’s completely surreal knowing I’m leaving in twenty hours for an adventure unlike anything I’ve ever known. I can’t even fathom it. I just want to drink in every moment, savoring with all my senses what God is allowing me to experience. I want to be open and responsive to the people I meet. I want to share my journey without fear. I want to go to Bosnia as a risk taker and come home that same way. I am overwhelmed at the immensity of this trip and so humbled that I get to be part of it all.
Fri, Sept 16
- Petula (the missionary we worked with most closely and who is also the director of Izvor) encouraged us to learn from the Bosnian way of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. Relationships trump everything and they are taken very seriously – one would never think of meeting for coffee or lunch and then texting on their cell phones all through their time together. If you have a best friend, you see them every day or call or text them daily at the very least. This isn’t just a girl thing either. Men will meet their best friends for coffee as well. This closeness also makes it difficult (for believers) to enter into new friendships (with unbelievers).
Sat, Sept 17
– Lora and I are back at our home, preparing to meet Petula so we can get ready for the Pampering Seminar, where I am speaking. I really don’t want to be nervous about this. I want my story to touch the heart of another woman, even if I never know of it. God, please use me any way You choose.
What a powerful evening – and yet so different from what I expected. About 20-25 women arrived for the Pampering Seminar. They are a friendly, vivacious group of women; all ages, believers and non-believers alike. It was awkward at first, but several of the women and I talked as we beaded. I mostly talked and joked with a beautiful and funny young girl named Marissa, who I later learned was a devout Muslim. I should add that it was decided that I should not give my testimony because there were several unbelievers there who needed the non-threatening environment of just being with women of the church. I totally got that, too. Petula encouraged me to invite Marissa to Izvor for a one-on-one English session, which I did as I told her goodbye, hugged her and thanked her for being such a great beading partner. She said she will come to the center and I can only pray she will. I do believe that God has given me an opportunity with Marissa, whether it was just to nurture the seeds planted in her heart, or if there will be more. Regardless, she will be in my prayers for a long time.
Sun, Sept 18
– Lora and I walked for about 30 minutes along the river to meet Karen (one of the missionaries) and her girls, so we could take the tram out to Ilidza for church, which was amazing. Zeljko is preaching there and his heart for Christ and his love for people is so evident. As soon as he began praying I just wanted to cry. We worshipped, singing in Bosnian, and it was so easy to let my mind and heart go to God’s throne room. Nick preached from Zechariah and it was powerful.
We attended the Malta church for their service in the evening. It was full – maybe 30 or 40 people. They are passionate and responsive worshippers. Caleb shared about the mission trip to Mexico – about how God moved as they persisted in praying for healing. Nick preached from Habakkuk about when God seems slow to answer. So timely.
Tues, Sept 20
– Marissa came to Izvor tonight!! If the weather had been nicer, Lora and I would’ve been shopping and would have totally missed her! I asked Marissa if she is coming to the Open House on Saturday and she said she would, and took an invitation. I will keep praying for her. She has touched my heart.
Wed, Sept 21
– I had trouble falling asleep, but woke up on my own around 6am. Marissa was on my heart and I prayed for her. I’ve really been thinking about people here and at home. Without Christ, all are without hope and peace, no matter where they live. I have been so convicted of how content I am to live in my own little bubble, with very little concern for the lost people of Kelso/Longview. I want to be much more intentional about living each day in expectancy and building relationships with unbelievers. I want to go home a radically different woman, living in confidence and boldness, not the "Much Afraid" that I am honestly much more comfortable with.
Sat, Sept 24
- Tonight was the Open House. To my delight, Marissa came to see me! She stayed with me at the kids’ table the whole time she was there. I tried to give her the bracelet I made at the Pampering Seminar, but she would not accept it. Instead, she gave me one of her bracelets. We hugged and kissed so many times – I am a bit surprised. I told her I would join Facebook so we could stay in touch. She will be worth it! Having her come absolutely made my day!
Sun, Sept 25
– The bells are ringing their 7am cacophony and I am trying to savor those sounds, knowing I will hear those chimes only one more time. I don’t understand why I feel such heartache at leaving – well, actually maybe I do. Even though I say I will come again, only God knows the reality of that. Saying goodbye – maybe goodbye even in the eternal sense – grieves me and spurs me to pray even more for my new friends here who do not know Jesus.
Tues, Sept 27
– This trip has been beyond anything I could have imagined. I am sad to leave, yes, but I spent time alone saying my goodbyes and praying over the city, so now I am ready to go home. I am leaving with no regrets, only a very full heart that will be missing the piece I am leaving here. My prayers will be so different for this place and for these people whom God has allowed me to love. I pray I am coming home a different person, fatter in my soul and spirit, not just in my body!
Ciao Sarajevo. I love you. I will miss you. I will pray for you. I will rejoice with God’s people as the love of Christ is poured over this place. Hallelujah.