This week we've been in Winnipeg, Canada for Black Forest Academy orientation. Today was my birthday.
As far as birthdays go. This one wasn't one of the more eventful ones. My wife woke me up with a kiss and a very enthusiastic, "Happy Birthday." Everyone at orientation sang me happy birthday and got me a cake. My mom and sister sent me a happy birthday email. A bit low key in comparison to some of my past celebrations.
Honestly, I didn't really know what to expect coming up here. I'd never spent a week with a group of soon to be missionaries. I was a little concerned regarding where Stephanie and I would fall in the mix. I had a feeling there would be diversity of backgrounds. The group spans the all of North America. We have people from Orange County, Texas, Nashville, Boston, Virginia, The Bay Area, Ohio, Toronto, and Alberta. I couldn't have put together a more hodgepodge group if I tried.
We've been discussing cultural differences, christian education, missionary family dynamics, the history of Janz Teams (our mission organization) and much more. Our evenings have been filled with hearing each others testimonies on how we came to know the Lord and what were the events that brought us to this place. The stories have been amazing and inspiring. I would never had guessed the road some people have traveled.
We've built relationships with new people. People different then us. I've felt ashamed as some of my snap judgements were demolished in the face of the bravery of some of these people as they've sought to follow God's will and the obstacles they've had to overcome. I've been inspired by the raw faith that sustains many of these people. Faith which dwarfs my own.
The gifts I received today were real examples of walking faith. I've seen yearning desires to follow God. I've heard true stories of God's unending mercy. I've discussed different and exciting ways of worshipping our Lord.
God knew that for my birthday I needed to see confirmation. Confirmation that he was in this. That people's lives were going to be impacted by all of this. The kingdom was going to impacted. That the sacrifice was well worth it.