Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sounds and His strength

Today is Thursday, and the second to last day in the city for my team.

It has been a busy and full two weeks, and I am beyond the exhausted point. I haven’t been sleeping well this week, usually waking up around 4-4:30 am for a while with my thoughts racing and my room unbearably hot. I have taken to sleeping with one of the windows open, as crazy as that sounds. Not only does it provide a decent temperature to sleep in (until my 4 am wake-ups), but it allows me to go to sleep listening to the sounds of the city.

While a much quieter city than many I have slept in, Amsterdam still has its noises. There are usually mopeds and Vespas making a high-pitched whine on the street outside, jolly young men shouting and laughing in a group as they walk below the window, a low whistle of a lone person walking home, and the occasional “toot-toot” of a car horn or “ding-ding” of a bicycle bell.

For most people, smells are the link to memories. While certainly still a very strong link to the past for me, I also tend to associate certain sounds with a place I have been. Chugging diesel engines bring back Costa Rica. Tropical birds and easy rivers bring back Ecuador. Loud car horns and yelling take me back to Italy. I think it will be gentle and persistent dinging of bicycle bells I take with me from Amsterdam.

Even though I still have a day left in the city, my heart and my thoughts are on their way back home to those I love and miss. I have enjoyed my time here immensely, although it was much different than I thought it would be. Combining the pressures of work (why I am on this trip), class (what has kept my mind occupied during the days), and ministry (what we’ve been “doing” in the afternoons, but which needs to become a lifestyle for me) has been interesting. It has been a great learning experience to see how I (don’t) handle those pressures, and to realize how little I am, and how unable I am of doing anything big for God on my own. I can’t do it.

I can’t strike up conversations about the Gospel on my own strength. I can’t control my tongue when I am tired on my own strength. I can’t write an article that will inspire everyone to move overseas on my own strength. I can’t….Praise God that I don’t have to do any of it on my own strength, that He wants me to do it in His strength, if only I will relinquish. In my weakness, his strength is made perfect.

So whether I am listening to bicycle bells, loud car horns, the singing of birds, or just the sweet sounds of my loved ones around me, I am thankful for the reminder this week that I can’t do it on my own, but that I have a Savior who carries the load for me.

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