After spending that first night on our friend’s veranda sleeping in white plastic lawn chairs while bundled up in comforters and headcoverings, we sought shelter at the U.S Embassy. At first, they wouldn’t let me enter because I am a Canadian citizen and carry a Canadian passport accompanied with my Resident Alien Green Card. My teammates, however, are full U.S citizens and therefore had full privilege and access into the embassy. I didn’t, so I did what I do best. I paced and cried and prayed and sang and cried and prayed, over and over again till I got some results.
My song choice? “I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls. I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, I will wait on the LORD, till He calls”. (set to the tune of “I will trust in the LORD”). I sure put on a show for the security cameras.
When the first guard came out, I motioned to see if I could come in and he said, “no, we are still talking about you”. Did I really reach celebrity status? NOT!! So I continued with the song already mentioned. This time with more determination. I wasn’t going to let a person decide my path, I was going to “trust and wait on the LORD” (Prov. 3:5-6) with every exhausted fiber of my body. Finally, a guard came out and with tear-stained face, I was ushered through a security room, through a courtyard, and finally into the rescue shelter. God made a way. Man just held the door open.
The following morning I was able to get a call out to my husband on the U.S Embassy phone. Tears streamed down my face as I heard his voice and clutched his every word. Although I was in a somewhat safe place physically, I was still scared. I wanted normal. I wanted comfort. I wanted the noises in my head to stop. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to stop moving. I wanted the psychological tremors in my heart and head to cease. I wanted to deny that I was at my breaking point. But since I don’t do denial, I can admit that I had had enough. I was spent. I was at my breaking point.
Toward the end of our conversation, my husband said, “babe, remember, you can either be a vessel or a victim”.
It didn’t take long before those words took deep roots in my soul and began to give me the Hope I needed to finish strong. I have since asked God to help me continue to live them out.
Following the phone conversation with my husband, I decided to journal what he might have meant and how that was impacting my heart at such a critical moment. At the same time, a newly acquainted friend Sonia came in and asked if anyone would like to help in the kitchen or in any other way. Right away, I knew it was “vessel” time. I jumped up with great enthusiasm and headed to the kitchen to sign up to serve breakfast to the almost 300 people that were in the Embassy that day. The room was filled with a variety of people – military personnel in uniform, Peace Corp volunteers, military families along with their pets seeking shelter, U.S citizens who were on Hindu pilgrimages, climbers, and many others. For some, this was their first meal in two days. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
My job was to serve the rice and potatoes. How hard can that be right? Then I heard Ken’s voice again reminding me, “babe, you are a vessel NOT a victim”. A vessel pours out.
I served with a smile that became a gift to so many. While many returned the pleasant gesture and even responded with, “thank you for the beautiful smile”, others came up to the counter with distress and anguish in their eyes and a grumble or complaint on their lips. The pain I saw in their eyes and face, matched what I was feeling in my heart. On several occasions, as I served, I felt the burning in my eyes as I fought back the tears from flooding my face, all the while knowing I would eventually have a time and place to shed those tears. But right then, the moment wasn’t right. Being on the serving side of the counter strengthened my heart and fed my soul. But the reality was I was no different than the people I was serving. We were all facing the same crisis of uncertainty. We all needed a rescue and a place to lay our heads. We would all be carrying the same fear from this earthquake. But that day, I was called to be set apart. I was challenged to NOT be a victim, BUT a vessel. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit helped me be a vessel. I feel so blessed to have been poured out in such a practical way.
I remember one man who complained about the rationed portions we were giving him. I got angry in my heart and fought the tears and mumbled under my breathe, “we could take that away you know”. (I never said I served perfectly. I just said I served.)
I learned that day that an ungrateful and complaining person is still hard for me to appreciate. But God had called me to be a vessel that day and I was going to submit to His leading.
When a person is a vessel (one who pours out) she doesn’t hold back when tipped in the right direction. So I kept serving. I kept pouring out. Oh, the joy I felt that day in those few hours. I almost forgot I was in a shelter needing protection myself. I also forgot that my shoulder was burning with intense pain.
As I am home now with my husband and children, I am continuing on my healing journey. I am also realizing that disciples are vessels because of what Christ has done for us. If we stay as victims we lack the appreciation or understanding of what Jesus did on the Cross for us.
Before the trip, I kept the following phrase close to my heart. “Broken and Poured Out”. Yes, the ground broke beneath my feet in Nepal, but the LORD is using it for His glory and pouring me out according to His choosing.
In closing I want to add a quote from Oswald Chambers.
“It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable of God’s engineering. If God puts you there, He is simply sufficient”. (“My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. May 14th entry)
I chose to go on this mission trip to Nepal, which meant choosing the common discomforts I would encounter in any underdeveloped countries. But I didn’t choose the earthquake. God did. I believe God moved the earth that day for His purposes. He broke the earth and at the same time He broke hearts – mine included. I am not the same person I was before the trip or before the earthquake. I don’t want to be. I want to be healed but only to the point of His choosing.
In what direction is God tipping you?
How do you respond to disagreeable moments in your life?
What are you prone to do when a door appears closed to you?
Thank you for journeying with me,