Abante has been a much needed place of growth for me, but the hardest part has been leaving my home. When my team and I went back for our holiday break, I came home to my beautiful island in Puerto Rico for Christmas. It is the best. We take the entire month to celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the old year and New Year’s, and 3 King’s Day. We Puerto Ricans love to get together, dance, eat good food, and traditional desserts with friends. In this time, I got to see my brother from the Army, my parents, grandparents, baby cousins, my boyfriend, and friends from church. Though I was only home for three weeks, I reconnected deeply, and leaving was so difficult.
Even though my heart hurt for my home, I chose to follow the leading of the Lord. The reward was too great to lose.Stephanie Rodriguez
My journey started with my team in Germany a few days later than planned because my flight got delayed. Once I arrived, it all felt like a blur. I ached to be home with all of the wonderful people I had left behind. I found myself talking to friends and family in Puerto Rico more than I did with my team here in Europe. Going back home rooted me back into my comfort zone. I got used to my routines and my involvement in my church, and I found myself unmotivated to be fully present and involved in my program. Thoughts came to my mind: being without my family, not seeing my long-term boyfriend of 6 years, saying goodbye to life long friends, and my growing baby cousins. I realized that I lost much confidence in what I was capable of in ministry. I wasn’t in a healthy place with my attitude towards the team and with God.
All these thoughts tempted me to change my mind and go back home until one of my leaders spoke to me. She gave me the option to go back to Puerto Rico the next day and return to my comfort zone. This opened my eyes to the possibilities Europe had in store for me. I realized that I didn’t want to leave because I wanted all that God had to offer me. I wanted to change and continue growing in all areas of my life. Even though my heart hurt for my home, I chose to follow the leading of the Lord. The reward was too great to lose.
A couple weeks later, I was asked to give an encouraging word to a youth group in a city in Germany called Kiel. What I shared was the very truth that reminded me of my purpose in this trip. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus speaks of people who hears the words of God and does them, are like a lighthouse built on the rock. While the rain came and the wind blew and beat on the house, it did not fall because it was founded on a firm foundation. My mind raged with doubt and my heart hurt for home, but one thing remained the same – my foundation in Jesus Christ. I told this youth group that I knew God called me to be here, to experience all these things, both the good and the bad. Even when I wanted to go home I got reminded that He has a purpose for my life. I may not understand all things at the moment, and it may not always feel the most comfortable, but I trust that He will see me through this process. I know it will be better on the other side. He’s a faithful God and He’s in control of everything. Even when the storms rage, we can trust Him.
Won’t you trust Him with me?
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