It’s been a while since our last post, and certainly a lot has happened. I hope that you all are following us on Facebook to get pictures and stories every week. This has been an especially rough couple of months for us as I am currently in a cast. I’ll delve more into that later.
Today I feel I can speak freely of some struggles I’ve had since we moved into the city in August. If you had asked me a couple of months ago, I may not have admitted it, but many times in this journey I’ve found myself questioning my purpose here.
Brad spends every day at the ministry serving, teaching, loving, and helping. He’s made huge strides in relationship development and taken a lot of tasks off of the director of the ministry. He has been invited to the homes of families in the ministry, a Quinceañera, and several graduations. I’ve had a mom from the ministry approach me, hug me, and say that Brad is like a father to her daughter because her own father denies her. The teenage boys ask to attend his sports workshops early because they love what he’s doing and spending time with him. I could go on and on about Brad’s work in ministry. His impact is clearly visible.
Sometimes I struggle to see my impact as much. It may sound like I’m comparing myself, and to be honest, in the past few months I have. I’ve even had moments of jealousy that Brad is so active in ministry and I’m at home homeschooling, or in recovery with my foot. It’s been a difficult transition going from my life in Georgia to the opposite lifestyle here… from working to being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. From seeing family and friends often to barely being able to communicate with the people around me. None of these changes are bad, they just take some adjustment.
As I was struggling in the beginning of this season of questioning my purpose and asking God to give me more opportunities to serve, I fell and broke my foot. I played soccer my entire childhood and many times since then and I’ve had several injuries requiring benching or physical therapy, but nothing like 2 months in a cast.
The first 2 weeks I couldn’t do anything. I crutched from the couch to the bathroom to the bed and back to the couch. I had to have help to get into the shower, put a sock on my “good” foot, and struggled to stand to brush my teeth. I couldn’t cook, pick Baylee up, or leave my house. Talk about feeling useless! I felt and still sometimes feel like a burden to my family. I have to ask for help carrying anything and it is very difficult and dangerous to navigate the stairs, so Brad has to bring anything I need from my bedroom down into the guest bedroom. In the first month I was so uncomfortable I spent hours upon hours on the couch, reading, watching TV, or playing angry birds on my phone. I had several nights of pain, unable to sleep. It was in these times of forced stillness I got really real with God.
What am I doing here?
Why did you send me here just to “bench me from the game”?
Where are the breakthroughs?
Where is the joy?
I am in pain. I am lonely. I am tired. I am defeated.
Through these times, I felt the comfort of God’s spirit gently asking me to be patient and I adopted the mantra of one day at a time. Instead of thinking, 6 weeks in a cast (or as of today, less than a week!) I only think about today. I’ve finally accepted my fate and I can laugh at myself for bumping into things. The kids and I hop around on my crutches and do silly dance moves on one foot. Bryce even knick-named my cast “Jerry” and we blame all kinds of things on Jerry’s presence.
All of this time staying put has really helped me to process my own place in this journey, so in the end, I can now finally grip some often difficult to accept truths that God has been teaching me.
The first is this:
God never promises to fully reveal His plan or your part in it. He only promises that He has a GOOD plan and it’s for your good and His glory.
Throughout our journey I often think of God’s call of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4:
He tells Abraham to GO to the land He will show him. Now if I’m Abraham, I’m asking tons of questions.
What land? Are there clearly marked road signs, written in English?
Does WhatsApp or Google Maps work there?
Should I pack my winter coat or just a light jacket?
But then verse 4 happens… “So Abram went as the Lord had told him.”
God says GO to the place I will show you and I will bless your life and every life after you through you. He never says how and what the journey will look like. Sometimes I wonder if Abraham would have actually gone if God showed him all the nitty gritty details. Would I have come to Guatemala if God showed me the hard parts?
Through this time God has been reminding me that WHO I am has nothing to do with a title, a career position, or the work I do. I am His and I am loved no matter “how much I get done” or what my purpose is. My position is “daughter of God” and there is no need to compare myself or feel somehow “less than” or “out performed” by others in ministry. All He asks of me is that I GO and He will take care of the rest.
The second is:
Life is not a series of to-do list boxes to check. There is much kingdom work to do, but it’s up to me to dig in, reach out, and find opportunities to engage and serve.
I realize that I have often acted out of my fear of failure or fear of discomfort rather than the power that the Holy Spirit provides (Acts 1:8). I guess I mistook my level of comfort in the United States for a feeling of fulfillment. Not to say I wasn’t doing good things for God’s Kingdom. I was. But in coming here, somehow I expected “ministry” to fall in my lap in some sort of to-do list with boxes that I could check off as I accomplished them. I think I have sort of lived my life like that.
Fulfilling job. Check.
Good friendships. Check.
Health. Check… ish.
But life doesn’t work that way, especially when you decide to follow Jesus. Things happen that aren’t on your original list. Things like moving to another country, or falling and breaking your foot. Who would ever put Jerry the cast on their to-do list? Exactly…no one. So what do we do when there are surprises? Or when we thought things were supposed to look one way and they look so very different?
The third lesson God has been teaching me:
Adapt and Overcome.
Ok so this phrase coined by the United States Marine Corps may not be nearly as inspirational or spiritual, but it reminds me of the deep truth of Romans 8:37.
Now THERE’S some inspiration. In Christ, we are MORE than conquerors. We can rise above the things that come at us. We can accept the fate of Jerry (or whatever other fall we have), we can adapt, and we can be thankful for the lessons God offers and the peace that comes along with those.
Ok, so I’m in a country where I barely know the language… what can I do?
I can myself out there and dive into conversation with anyone I meet so I can practice! Adapt and overcome.
When I’m not able to teach a Bible class or start a small group… what can I do to disciple the young women of the ministry?
I can take them shoe shopping and out to ice cream. (More on that later)
I can invite them to my home.
I can teach them English classes where we can laugh at each other and be silly.
Adapt and overcome.
For as many times as I’ve questioned my purpose because ministry doesn’t look like it did in the United States, I’ve been able to open my eyes to the opportunities I HAVE stepped into…
Opportunities like working alongside the administrators of the ministry to institute a new attendance record process and sponsorship program process.
Opportunities like serving at a Gala for the young women of the ministry, at which I got to tell them how beautiful they were and that they are all princesses – daughters of a King!
I no longer question what my purpose is. I know God has a plan and He is working everything for good (Romans 8:28). I know that He has commissioned me and my family to come and make disciples in this nation (Matthew 28:18-20). It might get messy, it’s certainly uncomfortable at times but there is no better place than being at the center of God’s will.
Thank you for the calls, messages sent, and prayers for my foot. Please continue praying for accurate and correct healing. But above all please pray that God will continue working through our family here in Guatemala. Thank you for your support. God has grown us in ways we never imagined and we’re praying to see a generational impact in the ministry. We love you all!