Well, we have been back in the States for about 2 weeks now. I would have to say, we are starting to get adjusted, oh yeah and then it snowed and all the adjustments flew right out the window. I started wondering why I left Guatemala and wished I could click my heels together and go back. Just kidding, snow is not that bad. I have pretty much lived my whole life dealing with snow, but when you lived in the near perfect weather of Comitancillo for 8 months, it takes a little getting used to. Many other things are requiring some adjustments as well. I remember when our plane first landed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and we had a 3 hr. layover and we were all hungry. We went to get some lunch at an airport restaurant. I think the total came to $40. In my head, I did the math, and that is about 300Q. I just spent over a week’s worth of grocery money for Guatemala on one meal. And then the first time walking into a Walmart, oh the stuff, there is stuff everywhere. It is seriously a shock to system, it has taken a lot of getting used to all the stuff that we have here in the States.
In Comitancillo we did not have grocery stores, restaurants, or roads that are even close to being like what we have in the U.S. The were a few small restaurants but not everywhere like here. And yet some of the things we learned from the peoples of Guatemala was how to care for your neighbor and how to love the least of these.
The other thing that is getting hard to get used to, is I find myslef constantly responding and talking in the little bit of Spanish that I do know. It has to be somewhat confusing coming from a blonde haired, blue eyed, white person. I wish I knew more Spanish, I could really mess with people than.
I do know when we go back to Guatemala, or any other Spanish speaking country, we are for sure going to attend a language school before we do anything else. So, just a note – if any potential future cross-cultural missionaries are reading this, I definitely recommend going to language school if you are going to do anything beyond short term, get your feet wet, see what missions is about trips. We naively thought that we would just move there, immerse ourselves in the culture, and learning the language would just happen. After seven months I feel very equipped and comfortable going shopping for groceries, greeting people as I pass them on the streets, and having a very short basic conversation.
But….that is not what we came to do! We came to share the gospel and do ministry which requires a very different type of conversation skills.
You live and you learn and one thing we know, is we have never ever been so sure of what we want to do with the rest of our lives as we are right now and yet, so unsure about where to do it. We thought for sure a year ago or so that it was going to be Guatemala. Then as time went on, we felt there was already enough work going on in Comitancillo. It may be lacking in some areas and could use much more assistance, but there is a gospel work going on there.
We felt that we might be able to be more affective somewhere else. But.....then the last few months before we left, we really grew attached to people and relationships grew strong without us even trying to make that happen. So now we are feeling a sense of calling to go back. But we are trying not to let relationships and a feeling of obligation direct us too much. I know sometimes the most natural and easiest thing to do is not always the best. And we want to figure out what would be the best thing, the most God-honoring thing to do. We have also been being more and more led in the direction of going to places that are the most lacking, places where there is no work going on, places where there is no gospel being preached and where there are no churches. We want to go to those places where there is the most darkness. There is such a burden and such a call and we want to just rush right back out there … We are having such a hard time staying in the States.….We are not exactly sure where we will go right now. But we know we want to go somewhere and we want to get there now… And yet how and where do we most faithfully do that?
And so we have to constantly remind ourselves of why we came back. We thought we needed to be better prepared and we do need to be. We loved it out there, the people, teaching at the Bible School and the CFC Church and the grade School.
We have been back in the States now for about 2 weeks. We are in Minneapolis and have been getting more acquainted with Bethlehem Baptist here. It is a great church. Our church before in Osseo, WI is a really good church, too - but I just don’t think it has what we need to get us ready. We need teaching and training and people getting us ready in the area of missions who have knowledge and experience with mission and Bethlehem Baptist has a huge focus on that.
We have attended 3 membership classes, as well as getting enrolled in and have gone to the initial orientation for the Nurture Program (missionary approval program). There is literally stuff to do here every day at Bethlehem if you want. We want to become members at Bethlehem and get connected. In February we are going to go to Texas for a short time to visit To Every Tribe, a missions sending agency and their Center for Pioneer Church Planting, a missionary training program. We are hopeful of joining up with them if it is the Lord’s will. Although I do know I do not have much time left as I am getting old quick, at the same I want to be a good steward of that time and I feel the best way to do that is to be the best prepared and the most faithful to what His word says. He can do more with us in a short period of time if we have counted the cost, been disciplined in our pursuit of Him and are as faithful to Him as we can be than if we just go out there in our own strength and power – sometimes in our zeal without knowledge, we can cause a lot of damage and I do not want to do that. There are strength in numbers and not only is it good to be connected to the Body for support, and prayer and resources but also accountability and I am of the belief that our zeal can be maintained if we are constantly looking to Him but a well-focused, honed zeal is much more beneficial and that’s we are asking the Lord for.
I am know sitting down a week later to finish this blog and everything has flipped upside down and around and changed. We have just run into a huge financial surprise, and it has really hit us hard. It is of such a magnitude that I believe it would be really unwise for us to stay in the Cities now because of this. Hopefully we are doing the right thing. We want to be good stewards of our time as well as our money and so we have decided to stay in Wisconsin, as it is much cheaper. We are not letting this get us down. We truly believe the Word of God is true and faithful. In Romans 8:28 it says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
"All thing" includes struggles and difficulties. But it is for His purpose and for His plan. So I don't know why these trials have come our way but I am trying to be excited for what He is planning and preparing.
…. I feel like I am 42 yrs. old and I'm getting to prepare for what I wish I was doing at the age of 17. Oh sometimes the devil tears at my mind and taunts me over the wasted years …
But then my God comforts me with the thought of His meticulous hand of providence … and I believe He knows what He is doing … It might not be a straight path. There are a lot of twist and turns. His grace has gotten me this far. All things do work together for good. We are right where He wants us and His name will be praised in all the earth. May that day swiftly come. And may God be pleased to redeem what we have left of this life for the praise of His name, and the good of all peoples. Love you!!! Let the glory of the Lord forever be our joy May redemption be the theme of our song For by grace we have been saved And by grace we shall proclaim To the corners of the earth that Christ has come Let the nations be glad Let the peoples rejoice For salvation belongs to our God Let the whole earth be filled With the praises of the Lord For salvation belongs to our God Let the nations be glad Through the ages gone before Through the trial and the sword Many saints and martyrs conquered, though they died Still we're holding out the cross Crossing oceans, suffering loss Shall endure all things to win the crown of life As Your holy church goes forth In the Holy Spirit's power With the glories of the gospel to explain Now we pray Your kingdom come And we pray Your will be done For the honor and the glory of Your name