I've wanted to write this blog for awhile, but have held out because it has been a profound and beautiful inner thought process for me, and I haven't felt sure how best to express it outwardly.
But I feel inclined to try, because I feel like our spiritual journey during our last year and a half or so here has been rarely talked about in this forum.
I absolutely love words. Love words to be used in new contexts, to find new words to describe old feelings, love words to surprise me.
I remember when I was in Ethiopia, how I marvelled at new words to say the name of my God. How I felt reinspired in my worship-because I had new words (though it was just a few) to sing to and about my God.
One of the things Mark and I were most excited about in joining PC and moving abroad was learning a new language. It is still one of the things we are excited about. It's just...fun! Frustrating, and tear-invoking, and oftentimes humbling to the millionth degree...but it's been fun, and challenging in a way nothing else has ever been for me.
We have done well in our language learning. Of course, we have miles to go, but we have accomplished a lot. This being said, I have many new words to describe my God, to think about Him, to re-process my responses to God with new meanings behind once familiar concepts. This has been moving, exciting- has led to more earnest prayers and heartfelt worship.
But that seems ages ago, those little discoveries that touched my heart and mind in new ways. This has been a dry season for Mark and I. I literally cannot express how much we miss church. The power of fellowship, of the body, of singing praise in our own language with fellow believers.
I've had a few of these moments over the last year. These moments when I'm so not thinking about God-in the middle of class and we need to sing a song to transition. A quick song the students love to sing is "God is so Good". There have been multiple times when I have started this song-usually to transition, sometimes to quiet the students, often to keep from yelling at the poor dears....and I am immediately swept away into a moment of praise. How can we sing this simple refrain (in Tongan or English) and not be humbled,not be worshipful?
Other times have been even more odd-while out dancing with fellow volunteers-a wonderful moment when I'm struck by the authority of our awesome God- and the words we are all singing and the ridiculous dance I'm dancing become an act of worship. At Mormon choir practice, singing "How Great Thou Art". Making up a ridiculous dance to the song "This is the Day". Even this last week.....we have been teaching our new students some Christmas songs, and even the silliest, simplest refrain- "Away in a Manger" brings tears to my eyes. Or a hilarious moment when the class 3 students convinced us to sing "Oh Holy Night" and they didn't at all in the slightest bit know any words, but hummed the melody and screamed the high notes.... My soul was turned to God.
I've thought often of the verse "even the rocks will cry out in worship to me" and I feel that hunger, that need, in my own soul. I have not turned often enough towards God in praise this year, and I feel my heart and soul and inner being looking, starving, to proclaim His glory.
There is something about the vocal, external, physical act of worship. We need it. Our souls and hearts need it. I don't think I would have thought that a year ago, but I know it now, because I see how my soul has seeked it even while my mind and body has not.
And that just screams to me about the mightiness of our God.
And, I can't help but wonder about all those second language speakers attending church in something other than their mother tongue. Is it different for you like it is different for me? Don't you feel like your truest expression can only come from your mother language, or does that change once you've mastered second languages?
We are so excited to spend the next month in America and to attend church services in English.