Looking back... by Rebecca Williams

Article Date: 12/10/2010 08:30:44

When asked, after the first few months of my time in England, what I’d learned so far from the experience, or how I was feeling about the beginning of my year-long adventure, it wasn’t too difficult to answer.

When asked, after the first few months of my time in England, what I’d learned so far from the experience, or how I was feeling about the beginning of my year-long adventure, it wasn’t too difficult to answer.  As I look back over the year, I can see different stages of learning and growing, different levels of comfort and homesickness, and different groups of people I’ve spent my time with.  As it has all added up to form a year of missionary work in a foreign country, the clear lines that defined the different periods have blurred, so that I see one great big mass of lessons learned, experience gained, and friendships grown.  So bear with me as I try to amalgamate the experience into a few short paragraphs!

One of the lessons I’ve learned (or begun to learn) has been an overarching one: that of dependence on God.  Whether I’ve been struggling with my finances, missing the security of familiarity, or trying to find people to fill those voids in my life that were created when I left my family and friends, I’ve had one Person to turn to.  And I have always found Him faithful.  It’s a beautiful thing, I’m beginning to see, when God allows us to become uncomfortable enough with our circumstances to depend on Him.  It’s in the midst of those rough winds, when the ship is out of our control, that we are able to let God have the control He’s always had and steer us safely into His will, where we are abundantly provided for.  He’s provided money when I’ve run out, a home while I’ve felt so far from home, and loving friends when I’ve been so lonely.  But He always lets me get a little bit uneasy, so that when He blesses me I know it’s His work.

Some things can’t necessarily be called “lessons,” though they involve learning.  Working in the Sheffield bookshop has taught me a lot just through all the experience it’s given me.  I have enjoyed learning about the administration of a shop: how things run, what a bookshop looks like behind the scenes.  I love being involved in all the little details, from figuring out what suppliers provide what books, to counting the cash at the end of each day.  And of course, I’ve learned a lot about people.  I’ve learned that people in England are not really that much different from people in America, except for the subtle variations that are difficult to put a finger on.  Everywhere there are customers who will be difficult, but there are also those who will surprise you with a blessing: a customer buys me a book, or asks me to tea, or gives a timely word of encouragement.  Truth be told, I think that I have been blessed, by customers and many others, much more than I have been a blessing.  I praise God for taking care of me, and showering His love upon one so undeserving!
Keywords: England, United Kingdom, Sheffield, Rebecca Williams, short-term, missionary
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