Dear friends,

Six weeks flew bye so much faster than I ever expected. I remember stepping off of the plane for the first time, I kept thinking “wow, six weeks! That’s so long!” But I’m saying, “that wasn’t enough time!”

When I returned home, I saw our culture, I experienced the ‘teen drama life’ and I fell in to this moment of depression, pain, and sorrow at the first world oppression. It hit me hard, and I was lost, but praise God for brothers and sisters who can redirect my steps when I slip.

I mentioned it in a previous blog post, but Les challenged us to make a commitment to steps of obedience. My steps of obedience start in the schools. Each morning I looked forward to the devotional. Not because I got swarmed with hugs each morning, or even because of the music, but because I got to see the joy of God on the faces of the children. I got to see God working in them right there as they were praising God. It was heart-wrenching (in a good way?) to see the kids pouring out their entire beings and their souls out to the Lord. They don’t have a lot materially, but they have so much in Christ. That passion they have impacted me, it made me reflect ‘how can I bring this back with me?’ I realized throughout my trip and more so at the end of my time that I began to have thoughts of sorrow, and of guilt. Guilt of how North America and more specifically for the United States is so dead. So spiritually dead. I’ve never seen passion so big as what I saw in Guatemala in the US. I don’t see kids so eager to read God’s Word and so eager to worship Him through song. I began to feel guilty, saddened, and depressed. I remember we talked at the beginning of our time and I expressed that I was a thinker, and analyzer. That was definitely true as thoughts of sadness and depression sunk in. It got worse the closer to our end and especially our plane ride home and walking through the airport. Sunday came around and I broke. It was Sunday night and I was playing church volleyball and I couldn’t handle it anymore and I went and hid in the washroom. Praise God for brothers and sisters! My best friend Victoria came in and we went for a walk and talked about everything that I was feeling and thinking.

So many thoughts were racing through my brain, and a question that was asked was , How do I cope with all of the depression of the first world culture; how everyone loves their oppression in North America but in Guatemala everyone hates their oppression? It hit me that night and Monday that there is a place for sorrow, but what does it lead to? Repentance. Likewise each of these feelings and thoughts have a bridge. I was reading 2 Corinthians 7 this morning and verse 10 was shown to me by a friend.

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

God lets us experience pain so that we can conform our thoughts to believe His Truth over the devil’s lies. The pain and anguish I was felt for the broken church is to be used to fuel my passion and lead me to the other side of the bridge. He blessed me to see the depravity in North America as “not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven…” (Matt. 7:21a) Through this trip, I was taught that Satan IS very real. He wants us to see all of the flaws at home so we are displeased and turn from God. But the hope lies in what action I will have next. God has already started to develop me although I may be hurt at first. God has a divine purpose.

All of that said that kind of encapsulates what led to my steps of obedience, I made my step of obedience before I left Guatemala while we were staying at Seteca. As I am a thinker, if ever I have thoughts of sorrow, pain, or depression about the spiritual state of the United States, I will write them down in my journal, and find a Bible verse that counteracts my thoughts as well as reaching out to my friends about my struggles. 

My prayer to you is that you recognize what needs to be changed in your life. Make the decision, don’t let the devil stand in your way

“Follow your bridge. Find your mission. Obey now!” -Toby 

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