A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to Spain for a week for our mid-year conference. This conference marked our half-way point, and it was a time for all STINTers serving in Europe, NAME and PACT regions to come together for a week of refreshment and rejuvination. I did not realize how desperately my soul needed me to be there.
There are no words to describe how refreshing it was to walk along the beach, watch the sun rise and set, and to talk with people who are having similar experiences as I am. Mid-year refreshed and encouraged me in each area of my life:
Spiritually, the morning and evening talks were life-giving: challenging me to focus on why I came on STINT and encouraging me to continue serving even when things become difficult. Likewise, having my morning devotions on the beach with the sounds of the waves crashing on the shoreline was invigorating. I connect with God through nature, so any time I can be a part of creation when doing my devotions, I feel infinitely closer to Him.
Emotionally it was a blessing to meet with the counselor and talk through why I’ve been unsuccessful in my personal ministry this year. A lot of my perceived unsuccessfulness has stemmed from my definition of success, and how I have removed God from the equation, and have put too much emphasis on my personal abilities.
Relationally, it was life-giving to meet STINTers from all over the world and hear of their experiences with life and ministry. It made me realize that I am not alone, and that I am not the only one experiencing difficulties and hardships; in fact, there are a lot people who have not seen any fruit this year, and it is not for lack of effort, but it is all in God’s plan. On one of the days we were able to go on a day trip somewhere, and I went to The Rock of Gibraltar. That day I was able to talk with people from the Netherlands, Slovenia, Africa, Montenegro, and more. We were able to connect by eating lunch together, walking around, and sitting on the bus together for hours. These are people that I might not have ever been able to meet, yet are going through similar things as I am. It’s just so interesting how God does that–how He pulls people together that He knows are going through similar things, and they are able to connect, even if it is just for a brief moment in time.
Physically, I LOVE LOVE LOVE being outside and in nature; it’s one of the main reasons I can’t quit my summer job as a lifeguard (who doesn’t love spending 40+ hours a week in the summer outside?! ) So I digress. But in all sincerity, morning runs along the beach, watching the sun rise over the Mediterranean, taking walks along the beach in the afternoons, skipping rocks in the ocean and reading on the porch made me feel alive again. I think future me needs to spend a lot more time outside and in nature in order to be a happy, healthy person