Jambo! We made a lot of new friends, and we learned a lot about ourselves, our world and our God through STM in Tanzania. Some experiences linger with me more than others, but my biggest takeaway is that this life is a marathon. No one event, person, job or experience is an end-all, be-all (other than Jesus of course). And with all marathons, discipline and diligence is a must to cross the finish line well.

Right after Tanzania, I was quick to go back to old habits and ways of life. You’d think worshipping with children living in extreme poverty or praying with runaway Maasai girls would radically change my lifestyle and have me reading Scripture and praying hours at a time, but to be honest, it didn’t quite do that.

Sure, my understanding of God and His vision expanded, the meaning and importance of missions and discipleship solidified, and I’ve definitely adjusted certain isms of my heart, but I still struggle with familiar sins, and it’s still challenging to keep to a daily routine of prayer and Scripture reading. I was bummed about seemingly small changes especially since it was my first ever missions trip. A part of me may have expected myself to take 5 minute showers and 5 minute prayers before each meal, but I didn’t, and that’s okay.

In a time of instant gratification and on-demand everything, it’s easy to measure the progress of my faith to checklists and if/then statements. If I do something to invest in my spiritual growth today, I expect results this week, end of the month the latest. And I think that’s how I framed STM for myself – If I go on STM, I expect certain changes and milestones. I didn’t lack in desire and want, but I did lack in the responsibility that comes with, which I’m learning is a long-term investment; one that calls for discipline and diligence. I wish I could expand on this thought a bit more, but I’m still processing, and I don’t have any more to share. Though I’d like to believe God is training me to seek and focus on Him more than the people I meet or experiences I’ve had and will continue to have – a very important lesson for a type 7 extrovert.

On that note, I did meet some wonderful people In Tanzania, and they helped expand my understanding of community in light of eternity. I’m in awe when I imagine getting to heaven and seeing my girls from the Maasai orphanage, and I’m sure I’ll see other believers I met  across the globe over the years. It’s going to be a literal party where we get to celebrate each other and our God as we cross the finish line. I don’t know about you, but I’d love my party to have friends from all over the world.

As an opportunist, I think it’s silly not to go on STM with Tapestry if you have the time and the slightest tug. This church and its leaders are committed to investing in us and our becoming of disciples and disciple makers. It’s a privilege to have this platform and opportunity, and I hope more of our church comes to recognize that and take advantage of it!