I was reading in Psalm 139 the other day, and it says that the Lord has recorded everyday of our lives in His book. I wonder if those pages are about to fall out or have been wrinkled up or have fallen out, maybe if I was the writer of my own story they would be. Thank goodness I am not the writer of my own story, you wouldn’t want to read it! 2016 was a difficult year for me. I returned to the States in December 2015, from the jungle of Ecuador, for Christmas break. I was eager to see my family and friends and share all that the Lord had been doing in my life, and I was even more eager to return to Ecuador. A couple weeks before I was supposed to return I had a regular eye check up. That appointment turned into 8 months of being treated for a pseudotumor cerebri (a pseudo brain tumor). I was ill, really ill, and not just physically, mentally and spiritually ill. I wanted to know why the Lord would allow me to be in the States, when He clearly called me to work with an organization in Ecuador. I was depressed. I am not the type to stay in bed or “ho hum” around, but I was that person, and for a month! I was so sad and confused and hurt, I was grieving. I had no idea why I was still here. I was for sure, a fish out of water. My organization gave me plenty of work to keep me busy. I maintained as best I could of the planning for the short term teams and student sponsorship. But, even though that is my responsibility, that is not the reason why I love the jungle so much. I am friends with many of the people that go on short term mission trips to the jungle. So this past year I could see all of the pictures they would post and they would share their stories and how much fun they were having. I would start looking at the pictures and see the faces of the students in the school. I had to stop looking because well, it broke my heart. I wondered what they thought about me, especially the sweet little girls in the 1st grade class who I would always play with during recess. And the boys that lived around the corner who always wanted candy or cookies from my house. I wondered what the teachers at the school thought. I was building relationships with all of these people. Not once did I ever think that I wasn’t going to go back. I always said and still say “I just came for Christmas break!” After 8 months I found out I had been misdiagnosed and then a month later I was diagnosed with a thyroid disease that is treatable. The Holy Spirit never let me feel comfortable about making plans to return to Ecuador until I received the diagnosis of the thyroid disease. When the doctor told me what I had I started crying huge tears. She said “are you okay” I said “of course I am” and I was overjoyed. Who knows why I have been here for the last year. Believe me I wanted to know! My friend (I don’t even know what to call him because friend doesn’t cover it!) anyways, he said “ASHLEY you may never know why and maybe not until you get to heaven and it doesn’t matter why!” I’ve come to be okay with this, even though it took me a lot longer than it should have. Two years ago, on this exact day, I set out on a journey that the Lord had planned for me. Now I am in the process of returning to my second home! I am so excited and grateful to the Lord. I am in the process of getting my visa and I hope to return early this year. If you are reading this certainly you have had an impact on my life in some way, THANK YOU! I will go back to the jungle and continue my responsibilities and whatever else the Lord has in store for me. I also plan to squeeze and kiss the tar out of those sweet, now, 2nd grade girls!