I lost myself in 1986 when we stepped off the plane onto Philippine soil.  Culture shock, inability to speak the language, boarding school, separation, live-in house helper, and much more stripped me of my identity.  I did not know who I was or who I was supposed to be.  I did not know why I was there.

A caring global worker came alongside me in the early days.  She said, “God has a reason for you to be here.  It may not be your reason.  It may not be your sending church’s reason.  It may not even be your mission agency’s reason.  But God has a purpose for Mary Bucy to be in this country at this time.”

What goes through our minds when we think of missions?  Naturally, the great commission is to go into all the world and preach the gospel, to share Christ and make disciples.  But that is not God’s only agenda.  A global worker once said: “God has to work on us before He can work through us on the mission field.”  God took me to the other side of the world, 10,000 miles from home, to work on me and to help me begin the search to find out who I really am.

I am by nature a shy and quiet person, an introvert with a fearful and Irish melancholic personality.  A pessimist—the cup is always half empty.  A bit of a perfectionist—not very flexible—impatient.

So God had work to do.  And it was painful!  He had to strip me bare before He could initiate the rebuilding.  Deep depression took hold of my life, forcing us to make some bold changes as a family.  Leaving language school and moving to Manila from a provincial town gave me the support I needed and made it possible for our daughters to live at home rather than at boarding school.  Choosing not to have a house helper allowed me to begin to reclaim my “territory”—God gave me the freedom to be wife, mother, and homemaker again.  I slowly started to heal and to yield to Him in tiny moment-by-moment steps.  There were those times when all I could yield was “willing to be willing” to be in the Philippines, but God knew my heart and He honored my efforts.  Through it all, He was faithfully by my side, surrounding me with His grace, lovingly pruning.  My husband patiently walked the journey with me.

To our amazement, our honesty about my difficulties began to open doors of friendship and ministry with Filipinos.  I was not the “holy, bigger-than-life American global worker,” but a fellow struggler who could relate to their pain.

While God continued to prune me and to use my weaknesses, He began to reveal strengths and characteristics that He had instilled into my life, even using the personality with which He had created me.  I was still shy, still quiet, still me.  He showed me that, instead of changing me into an extrovert, He could take an introvert and use me for His purposes.

The Lord unwrapped the gift of mercy in me—a tender and caring heart that hurt with others and had the desire to encourage and help.  He put thoughts into my head and heart that had to be written down.  He took a wife’s heart, a mother’s heart, a daughter’s heart, a friend’s heart, and allowed me to minister to Filipina and expat global worker wives and mothers and daughters and friends through my journal writings.  My honesty and vulnerability helped other women to be honest in looking at their own lives.  By giving them access to my life, they in turn ministered to me by sharing their lives.  I am the richer for it.

There were times that I stepped out of my comfort zone, only to find that I am not a teacher, I am not a speaker, I am not an evangelist.  I am an ordinary woman who wanted to serve Christ, and He has given me the incredible privilege to do just that with my family for 17 years in the Philippines.

Along the way, I found myself.

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