Loja Reloaded: Return to the Andes

Hola, Lojita – nice to see you, again

It’s like I never left. On the surface neither you nor I have changed much, although beyond the skin deep there has been transformation in the both of us. The 13 months I was away flew by – and yet it was more than a whole year of life, of growth and learning, of tears and laughter.

It’s like I was here yesterday. Still, your jaw drops when you see me in the street. I laugh and say, surprise! But I did say I was coming back – obviously you haven’t been stalking me on Facebook.

You are more beautiful than I remember and you bring out your best weather for me. Perhaps my nostalgia has infused you with added charm, but there are moments when I wish I could stay here with you and your warm smile, instead of going to Bolivia. I’ve missed you and your affection.

Loja

This has been everything I expected it would be, and more. I’m just not sure how I feel about the “more”.

Hola, doubts and demons

It was right for me to leave when I did. I needed to be home for a while, to rest and to heal – and to savour, to process and truly value the time I spent here in Ecuador. But now that I’m back it’s like all my monsters are jumping out of the shadows, all too happy to see me again. I can’t say I reciprocate.

I get to thinking maybe I will never get over how you hurt me.

I get to thinking maybe I wasted two of the best years of my life.

I get to thinking maybe I really was a sucky missionary.

I get to thinking maybe I am just a sucky Christian.

My mind knows these are lies, but my heart is slow and stubborn and wants to be blind. I know I run the risk of falling into works and forgetting grace – grace, which is the fulcrum of it all.

Hola, Suansita

Meeting yourself is possibly one of the most intimidating, confronting things you can do. Because you know what you’re capable of, you know your weaknesses and your darkness. But you’re curious; you seek a mirror to your soul in other people’s eyes. Living abroad provides that in bucket-loads. Self-discovery can be a great thing, but sometimes it seems downright masochistic. I learned a lot about myself; I embraced my (new) strengths but I didn’t really know what to do about my vulnerabilities, apart from allowing them to keep me humble, grounded. But Loja did more than show me myself; Loja moulded me, left its mark on me.

It was right for me to leave when I did – but was I running away from my monsters? Am I strong enough to face them now? What will happen when I have to leave again in a couple of weeks?

I get to thinking maybe I …

But maybe my heart – and not just my head – will start to remember grace, to forget my own pitiful works and fall into His grace. By His grace I am saved. By His grace I came to Loja, and my mistakes and inadequacies did not (and never will) prevent Him working mightily through me. His grace is sufficient.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

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