The Power of Presence and Embracing Every Moment

dr bb 2024-12-crop
June 21, 2024  |  Written by Ingrid Ellington.

This trip has been such a good and refreshing time for me. To step away from all the stress and chaos and conflict from day-to-day life. To be surrounded by people who make me smile and laugh every single day. It’s also been eye-opening. It’s put me in a perspective of life to be appreciative, joyful, happy, enjoy the small things, and have a curious and adventurous spirit. To intentionally reach out to others to make them feel loved, special, accepted. To serve with a humble heart and attitude. To be content and not always wanting more, not focusing on what I don’t have. To just be an open person. To enjoy all the little things and moments in life that God has given me to live in. To live in the here and now. To grow closer and closer to the Lord.

During my time being around the children I felt like someone famous to them. I’ve never met them before, but they see me and want to hold my hand and hug me and never let go. They admire me, my skin, my hair, the country I’m from. I’m not even seeking the attention or calling anyone to me; I’m just walking, and they all come running towards me with arms wide open.

These two girls in particular, Emely and Cecilia, at the first VBS, had many questions for me. I was put on a team with them when we played baseball, and they just stuck by my side. They really wanted to know me and who I am. I wasn’t just an American to them, I was Ingrid. I was their friend. And it was so amazing how much I was able to connect with them with the little Spanish I knew, getting to know each other in that short time.

When I go back home, I pray I’ll have that same spirit in me, reaching out to the lives God has placed in my life. Desiring to connect deeper with them. Sharing the love and joy of Christ.

There’s just something I like about living and serving in a place like the Dominican. Life is slow. It makes me not want to go back to the American way of life and the people there. I like being in a place like the Dominican where there’s more appreciation for what’s around you, for the people, the nature, the small things in life. It doesn’t take much to satisfy or make someone’s day here. They’re not always demanding or wanting more. They’re so kind and always smiling. Just sitting outside listening to music, playing games, cooking food. I’ll miss the sounds of the street, the music, the laughter, birds, nature, dogs. I’ll miss having the need to take cold showers, the cute small houses, crowded streets, beeping horns, hearing Spanish everywhere I go. I’ll miss seeing how tough, sensitive, playful, and joyful the children are here. Life to them isn’t about the nice cars, expensive clothing, money, vacations, having the nicest house, or having what everyone else has like backpacks, shoes, etc. They are so satisfied and filled with what they have and what’s given to them. They simply live in each day. With each other. And I love that perspective of life of the children here. Seeing them walk around with mud all over them and no shoes. Having fun throwing rocks in a river. I like the slow pace. It makes me feel guilty for how I live such a selfish life at home. Focused on all these things for me and missing the moments and memories and connections with people. Worried about how others think of me or see me. Living in moments for fear of man. There is so much more to life than clothing and food. I want this gratitude to never go away and only grow more in me. I need to live for the fear of the Lord always like I can here. I want to keep being aware of others around me, not being so focused on me all the time, but reaching out to others. No matter who they are, where they come from, how they look. They are beloved by God.

I’ll also miss this deep connection with the team. Our deep and personal conversations. The things not usually said aloud, just pouring out of our hearts each night. I’m so grateful for the Dominican staff, too. The trip would not have been the same without them. It created relationships with this country in me and Sara. I look up to my sister Sara so much. She’s so bold and makes most of the relationships first, and then I just follow. I’m so grateful for traveling with her. The positive impact of these people on me has just made something in me want to keep going out to all nations in the name of the Lord to be a witness. To meet more of His people across the world serving Him and pouring into the lost.

I feel motivated to be more productive and wise with my time. Going to the Dominican, where our days were packed full of doing things and being intentional, made the time go by slowly. I’ve learned the importance of always being fully present and living moment by moment to the glory of God. It convicted me to see how selfish I live. Focusing on things I don’t have, like clothing. And spending too much time worrying about what I eat.

I’m reminded of what the Lord tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 . . .

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – ‭‭Matthew 6:25-34‬ ‭

That passage really speaks to me. As it should to everyone. To be reminded that God is our provider so we don’t have to waste time worrying our lives away and missing the fullness of life He offers us in Him through actually living in each moment. The problem is that I want to gain control. And when I try to gain control, it’s a mess. I act out of my anger, frustration, discontentment, bitterness, pride, and the list goes on.

But God, rich in His mercy, so faithfully pursues me and reminds me that He has ultimate control in our lives, so we are called to submit and obey Him. To walk in step with the Spirit so we can live in His will for our lives. So for me, that would look like disconnecting from my phone to be with others. To be wise with my time and how I’m spending it. To be fully present with who I’m with and be intentional. So I can live to glorify and honor Christ with my life in every moment and point others to Him.

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and to die is gain.” – ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1‬:‭21‬ ‭