"Beloved, let me heal you.

"Jesus, not now, I don't think I can handle any more of your healing."

Definitely not something I had expected to come out of my mouth during a mission trip. but to be fair, the whole trip until this point had been definitely different than I had expected.

I hopped off the plane excited to be there and to work with populations in the red light district, or so I thought. I found out I would instead be working with babies at a nursery and with women working at a local store that helped women gain primary or supplemental income. After pushing aside a few scary thoughts (how will I explain this to sponsors?), I realized God had put me there for a reason.

As we walked through the streets I was felling a little uncomfortable, but I didn't really have an overwhelming moment until we were at the nursery. The kids were pretty fussy, but as I took hit and miss guesses in how to interact, soon they would laugh, dance, and sing with us (if they could speak yet, that is). Every day my heart would melt more when they ran to greet us or even just nuzzled my cheek when we held them. They stopped being kids I took care of, they started to feel like they were my own.

That's what made it even harder when I saw them. I don't know why it took me so long to notice, I was too naive and navel-gazing to ask the hard questions. We were dressing the kids after their showers when I noticed something weird on one of the little guy's ankles, only to realize they were bruises. I felt like I was getting punched repeatedly in the gut as I noticed more and more of them with these same marks on their backs and arms. In that moment, I cried out, "Jesus, where are you?"

I didn't get to sit and wrestle with this until we were at mid-project retreat and sat to hear from Jesus. As I sat, I asked, "Jesus, where is your kingdom in this community? what healing to you have there?" He responded with a visual of me on the beach, every bone broken as I lay in the sand, and he was carefully putting me back together. Normally, when I hear from Jesus like this, I am left in thanksgiving and awe. But this time, not only was I not grateful, I was empty. "Jesus, that's so dumb. Why not give me an image of the healing of these communities, or these babies, or just anyone? Do you not care? Heal them instead of me or at least alongside me."

I processed later why I reacted the way I did, and was thankful for God's gentleness with me. There is a way that as I enter into a small fraction of the pain this community feels that my heart breaks. However, this pain is only magnified when I am reminded of God's goodness. It was as if I couldn't handle having anymore goodness in my life amidst the deep suffering of the community. It was almost as if I was afraid to know the full goodness of God in my own life.

As God reveals the depths of his goodness, my cry becomes that much more desperate for those people and places that haven't experienced it yet.

I was angry with God. Why does he let this happen? Does he care about these bruised babies? I was given my answer when talking with our ministry partner about these injustices and she became emotional about the issues, but also stating with firm belief that God is with these people of Klong Toey. When I Feel anxiety about leaving, I'm reminded that God has put people like Klue Muay there to bring his goodness near.

While I have since accepted his invitation to heal me personally, I still have yet to fully understand God's goodness in all these situations. Praise our God, for he is one that can handle our situations, even when we feel like we can't. I am also thankful that my cries for his kingdom to come near is merely a reflection of his desire to bring it near. As the lion roars on Mount Zion, so our Lord roars for the end of these injustices in order for his kingdom to be near. Lord, let this fire and ache in our souls for your kingdom to come be one that doesn't leave. Thanks be to God.

- Afton