Kristen is new to the Collide team but I have known her for years as a college student at Western Washington University! In that time I have watched her faith become her own and her love for God and service multiply into a great yearning to do amazing things with her life! She just returned from a year-long mission and experienced the need for God to show up in the little and the big. I hope you enjoy hearing how God answered her prayers and are encouraged that He will answer yours! -Willow
God answers prayers. I know this seems simple and common sense, but I think sometimes we forget it. We forget what a BIG God we have. We forget simple prayers can be answered as well as the complex ones, and that even our un-asked prayers can be answered. We forget God knows the desires of each of our hearts.
When I graduated college from Western Washington University in 2014, I had big dreams, well at least in my eyes. But then everything I thought would happen fell through. I was lost and confused. I did not understand why God would do this to me, why He would not show up in the little things.
This last year of my life, I have grown immensely deeper roots in the Lord. If you looked at me last September and then looked at me now, you would see a completely different person. I have found freedom from control having power over my life, I have learned to seek approval and affirmation from the Lord and not from others, and I have gained an incredible amount of experience with new mercies and grace.
For eleven months, from September of 2015 until July of 2016, I lived my life on an eleven month mission trip called the World Race where we traveled to eleven different countries. Yep, you heard that right. Eleven countries in eleven months. I spent my life in Eastern Europe, Africa, and South America. I spent my life living as an overseas missionary with thirty-three people I now call family.
God gave us the words “hospital” and “alive” in a listening prayer for our team in Zambia. When nine of us came down with a really, really bad case of food poisoning and malaria, He answered our prayers with hosts who kept us fed, a hospital that provided us with IVs and medication, and tremendous love and care for each other even though we were sick ourselves.
God answered our prayers for rain in the middle of one of the longest droughts Swaziland has seen, where the corn crops were dying and farmers had been out of work for months leaving families with absolutely nothing to eat.
We prayed for rain in that small village, day after day of walking around the village and through the cornfields begging God for rain. We prayed for rain to grow the crops and we prayed for rain to heal the people. When “the day of a thousand vomits” happened, as we affectionately referred to it, we prayed for each other. We prayed for healing as vomit went everywhere, we prayed as one after another we succumbed to food poisoning, and we prayed as the doctors missed veins trying to insert our IVs in a hospital with no running water.
At the end of Zambia, only five months in, I was ready to quit and fly home. All I wanted was to talk to my best friend. But the wifi cut out, and then the rain, thunder, and lightning began. I stood and watched in awe as God lit up the skies. The thunder and lightning were just sound and visual effects. The rain beat the ground in a cacophony I am far too familiar with. The rain, oh the rain, is where God pulled me back to Him as He gave me a much needed piece of the Pacific Northwest.
Elephants have been my favorite animal since I was little. In Zambia, three of us chose to use one of our adventure days to ride elephants pretty much in the wild. They roam free but are cared for well by an amazing staff. We rode for over an hour. We rode through the Zambezi River which feeds Victoria Falls, a natural wonder of the world. To top it all off, when we were finished, we FED our elephant and the baby elephants. A childhood desire of my heart had been immensely filled.
On a fourteen hour bus ride from Ecuador to Peru, I was sitting next to a friend who I highly looked up to for wisdom. We dove into a conversation about God’s grace and mercy, about how we have new mercies each day and how God’s grace covers us exactly when we need it. It is just that. God’s grace covers us exactly when we need it. Not a moment earlier or a moment later, but exactly when we most need it.
Somehow on that long overnight bus ride, it clicked. I did not need to worry and stress endlessly about how everything would work out when I arrived back home in the States. God had a plan, even if I could not see it.
I have been back in the States for about seven weeks now and I will never forget the conversation on the bus. God’s grace and mercies cover us each and every day. God’s grace comes not when we want it, but when we need it.
Coming home from a year on the mission field, I was absolutely completely broke, but miraculously an entire month’s worth of gas and groceries was covered with a housesitting gig I was asked to do last minute. Bills were covered when the parents I nanny for gave me extra money just because they understand it is hard to jump back into the world of being an adult. His grace and mercies flowed in through deep conversations, quotes from books, time in my hammock, and roommates who make me belly laugh on the hard days.
God understands and knows the desires of our hearts. He answers the big prayers, the little prayers, and even the un-asked prayers. His grace and His mercies are new each and every day, covering us exactly when we need it and for what we need.