Ten years ago, I was blessed to serve on the first YES team sent to a diverse country located in South Asia. As an adventurous 18-year-old, I never assumed those five months of life-changing experiences would still be impacting me today in my role as a full-time wife and mother.
Aside from the piqued interest I have in anyone from a South Asian culture and the conversations that often ensue, I realize, in awe, how the Lord continues to multiply and harvest the fruit from the seeds that were planted those many years ago.
Flexibility is one asset that anyone visiting any foreign country needs! I still chuckle when I remember the many times our plans were changed due to sickness, vehicles breaking down, miscommunication, and cultural differences. Were we chuckling at the time? No, it was frustrating and sometimes downright annoying!
But my journal is full of testimonies of how God used us in many unique ways when we learned to be flexible. My time on the field prepared me for the lifetime of flexibility that parenting three young children requires! There are wrecked plans, bashed dreams, and humorous mishaps along the way; thankfully God will never bend us beyond our flexibility.
Perseverance and appreciation for prayer are other qualities that will be forever etched on my heart. Before being in South Asia, I understood the importance of prayer, but a four-hour prayer meeting while sitting on a cement floor was hard to wrap my "Western culture" mind around. In the beginning there were groans, complaints, and bad attitudes, but God was patient. He took His time in chiseling away at my hardened heart and I slowly began to appreciate and value prayer in a way that's not explainable.
Since becoming a mother, my devotion to prayer has become less structured but I don't believe any less powerful. How comforting to know my Savior can hear the prayers whispered over my children and husband and the delight He must feel when I speak to Him during the endless household chores!
God's faithfulness is evident to anyone thrown into unknown territory. I'll never forget the absolute fear I felt when arriving at a village school. The principal informed us that we would each be teaching a class of 14 students. This would be the first of six 40-minute classes and we had zero prep time! It was humbling but God was so faithful in giving spur-of-the-moment ideas! He reminded me it was His strength I needed to rely on and not my own.
Parenthood has many days where the horizon looks overwhelming and I feel unsure of my capabilities. But it's at these weak moments where I recognize I am clay in the Potter's hand.
I am eternally grateful for the rich and rewarding experiences that I gained from serving on a YES team and I marvel at how God still uses these learned lessons to transform my current role as a wife and mother.
Melissa (Martin) Zimmerman and her husband Sheldon live in East Earl, Pa., with their three children: Phoenix, Brooke, and Jude. Melissa served on a 2004 South Asia YES team. She enjoys full-time motherhood as well as blogging @controlrelinquished.blogspot.com.