It’s been a full week since we’ve been back in the States and I’ve already found myself pondering on how I can go back to Africa next year. I miss the simplicity and who I was when I was with those kids. Fully focused on the presence of the Lord. There’s no better feeling than this and it’s hard to come by in this fast paced life here. A mentor of mine had warned me about coming back from an experience like this and it had been my biggest prayer. She told me not to be bitter, but to work on loving others the best I could because no matter how much it sucks, no one else is going to understand what I had experienced.
I walked into work two days after I got back to people complaining about their lives, shootings that were going on in the world, and the worthless PokemonGo game that everyone was playing. I felt invisible almost and I could feel my flesh just eating at me. I was about to burst with all this emotion in my head, when one girl asked, “Mal, didn’t you just get back from a trip or something?” Here was my chance to share what the Lord had done. My emotions went away and I wore a smile. Once I shared a little bit of my story and what we did I got the typical response of “Wow, that’s awesome!” But then they quickly went right back to talking about work issues. Feeling shutout and rejected I went on with my duties. I was so irritated that I couldn’t sweep away this feeling when I knew it was coming all along. I didn’t love them well in that moment and accept that they didn’t know about my trip. How could I be so selfish? This wasn’t who I wanted to be when I got back. I prayed in my head for the Lord to forgive me. I wanted everyone to know who I was over there. That the Holy Spirit had vastly overtaken me and nothing else mattered. But I fell guilty for being back to my old ways already.
I took this as a test from the Lord; I had failed. But it’s okay I knew this was coming. I was going to move on and be better next time. On the bright side, I have tremendous support around me from close friends and family. They have helped the process of coming back and getting into the swing of things. In a book I’ve been reading, it discussed being in a phase of resting with the Lord. I think this is my biggest struggle in my faith. “Don’t wrestle, just nestle,” It’s always been hard for me to be completely content with who God made me and content with the situations I’m put in. I think back to being in Africa and sitting with the group of older girls underneath the rusted basketball hoop feeling so free and captivated by God’s love. Talking and laughing with them was effortless and simply enjoyable. I wanted to feel that way in my daily chaotic life at school, work, and with my friends. This coming year will for sure be a growing year for me. I’m confident that God is taking me places far greater than I can imagine and new responsibilities are coming my way. I’m excited for the challenge to stay on the course and grow in His word.
One of the last few devotions we had as a group before we left, I wrote down some goals that I wanted to accomplish this year. They all led back to guarding my heart and being patient, while continuing to stay hungry and to know Him more and more. I want to dig into His Word and put it into practice. It doesn’t matter what has happened in my past, I am going to be fresh on my toes, ready to attack every day as it comes. “Lord, have your way with me”; was my continuous prayer coming home. I need Him in the community I’m in. It’s not going to be easy, but I love the challenge.
I am so excited to be part of the MOAM family now and have friends that share a common passion. All pushing each other forward and loving each other in prayer. Thank you MOAM and everyone who donated that helped make this process possible! This trip forever shaped and molded my heart and my walk with the Lord and I can’t thank you enough!
-Mallory Retherford, Ohio Women's Basketball
To God Be The Glory!
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