the destination, the reward is constant…

It’s funny to be at a crossroads when you really didn’t expect it.  Don’t get me wrong, my time has been good and I am confident that God is still in control.  I was surprised by the turn of events that led me back to life in the states – He wasn’t. I thought I would be spending my life in Guatemala and to say that it doesn’t still hurt to not be there from time to time would be a lie, but I rest in the fact that God has this.  I know I can cling to that, but it’s just a weird place to be – at a crossroads when you thought your path and direction were certain.  There have been seasons that I expected to be at a turn, planned for a bend, a twist or even to jump over a river and crawl through a ditch.  Each time God has been faithful and good.  I think one of the most influential… or at least memorable things that have been said to me in the last 3.5 months came from an old friend from college.  One evening while I was on the road to an “I-can’t-do-this/why-is-this-happening?” place, he said “You’re stronger than you realize and are on the same path you have been on all along.  It’s scary when there are unexpected turns along the way, but the destination, the reward is constant.”   Looking back I’m not sure if it’s what he said, when he said it or the fact that it came out of his mouth that has caused me to remember those words, but either way I always (and especially at that moment) need a good reminder that in the end is more of Christ and none of this is a surprise to Him – even at an unexpected turn.          

The path still isn’t clear… even my back up plan isn’t going how I would have thought, but pieces are starting to fall into place or at least I’m hopeful that they might be starting to fall into place.  I have a job interview on Tuesday.  It’s my second one since I found out that I would be in the states for however long the Lord tells me to be here. If I were honest I would say that I’m nervous, yet hopeful.  It’s at a hospital.  It’s a position that would not only allow me to use my education, but would more than likely be an open door to unexpected ministry from time to time – something I really didn’t think I would get to be a part of again.  And it’s something that I would say would have to be of the Lord, because I would have never even thought to search for the position.  There’s also a possibility that I might have the opportunity to move back to the area with all my community – nothing certain yet, but like I said I’m hopeful that things are starting to fall into place.  Waiting is always the hardest part for me, but Advent is a good reminder to trust God.  He is always true to His promises.

 

A return to Guatemala… and the ongoing job hunt

I know it has been awhile since I have sent out an update, but I have had many people ask about my return trip to Guatemala and wanted to let you know how it went.  I returned to Guatemala on September 17 for 2 weeks.  My primary goal in returning was to pack my things at the house to return them to the States and spend time with friends in Guatemala to say good-bye (or in many cases “see you later!”). 

My first morning in Guatemala was a Sunday and I couldn’t wait to hug some of my dearest friends.  After a great morning at church, I spent the afternoon with my second family over a long lunch.  The rest of the week included meeting with some of the kids that I had spent time with while living there, food/resources delivery to children’s homes in the city, visiting the school we use to help serve breakfast at from time to time, packing, and having lunches and dinners with dear friends.  There were hard moments without a doubt, but overall I was able to leave Guatemala feeling like the Lord had allowed me to end well and He used many there to encourage my heart in ways few can.  Guatemala will always be so dear to my heart and Lord willing I will return again in His timing. 

Being back in the States has been a little different since then.  I am at peace that this is where the Lord has me for now, even though I still don’t know why or what I’m doing here.  I trust that He has a plan.  He knows what He is doing and that I will be able to look back and see clearly.  In many ways I still have this “I’m out of place” feeling, but I know that He is faithful and that in time, as I become settled that should fade away.  I’m still convinced that I have some of the most amazing people in my life! God has blessed me richly.  I’m still looking for a job.  I’ve been looking at a lot of options, have applied for a lot and had little response.  I know that in His perfect timing the Lord will provide, but as the days drag on I have to confess there are moments I struggle to remember that.  If you would, please be in prayer for that, not only that a job would be provided but that my heart would be at peace in the waiting. 

Dios los bendiga

Here are a few pictures from my return trip to Guatemala.  They are mostly of sweet friends. 

 

Important Update Regarding Guatemala

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.   –Amy Carmichael
For years I have enjoyed the writings of Amy Carmichael – a missionary, a woman, a Christ-follower, who gave of herself often and suffered great trials.  While I have not experienced the struggles she faced, her words have often convicted me to check my heart to see if I truly know God’s loving-sacrifice in Christ.  More times than not, she has reminded me that even trials and struggles in the mysteries of the unknown will of the Father is just another aspect of His love and mercy to His children and for His glory.
So it is with a heavy heart, trusting in the loving-goodness of my dear Savior, that I write to tell you that I will not be returning to Guatemala as soon as I had once hoped.  I am sure that there are many questions of why I would not return to a place that is so close to my heart, my home.  The simplest answer is that those whose counsel I have submitted to under Christ have identified areas where I have room for continued growth and they believe that the States would be the best place for that growth to happen at this time.  It is not because of obvious sin, simply room for growth to be more effective as a minister of reconciliation.  I am aware of the areas which have been addressed and have been actively pursuing the Lord in those areas for some time.  It is in obedience to their counsel and the leadership that the Lord has placed in my life that I am now in the process of transitioning my life back to the States for the next season.  I do hope and pray that the Lord would open the door in the future for me to return to Guatemala, but at this point the timing of that is unknown.  What I do know is this: He is faithful and just and though I do not understand fully, I trust that this is part of His good and perfect plan to continue to shape me into the image of Christ and to bring glory to His name.  Much like Amy Carmichael wrote, my hope is that in following my Savior through disappointment and into peace I might know more of the love and grace shed on the Cross and that He might be praised for it.
To say thank you for the countless prayers, financial support to GCM, and the encouragement you have each given over the past few years seems to fail in communicating how grateful I truly am.  You have been a blessing and have been used by God to advance the kingdom in many ways.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
At this time, my plan is to leave staff with Great Commission Ministries on October 31, 2011, at which point the account I am responsible for will be closed.  Any gifts given towards my next season in Guatemala will be used for the purposes of returning to Guatemala to say my good-byes and move my belongings back to the States.  What happens after that is still in the process of being worked out, however, I am actively looking for a full-time job and seeking the Lord as to where I should go and what I should do.  Your continued prayers in this transition are greatly appreciated.   Please pray also that the Lord would grant peace and continue to place people around me to walk with during this time, that He would provide healing for my heart, continued growth, and that He would guide and direct me as I rebuild my life in the States.  Thank you so much for your prayers, support, and friendship!  This is a journey which would have been impossible without you and without the Lord’s continued guidance.

DAR:: Debriefing and Renewal

Sunday afternoon, I will be heading back to Colorado for part 3 of the Missions Training I started last summer.  This part of the training is called DAR, which stands for Debriefing and Renewal.  I’m not sure exactly what we will be doing or talking about, but I do know that if it is anything like the training that I went to last summer it will be well worth my time.  I’m also very excited because in addition to going with my team, I will also be there with two other families that I know… so some of my closest friends will be there with me!

Here is a rough draft of our schedule:

  • Sunday:
    • Travel to Colorado
    • Dinner and Orientation
  • Monday
    • Time in groups with other missionaries from all over the world.
  • Tuesday-Thursday
    • Mornings with groups
    • Advising in the afternoons
    • Free-time/time for renewal in the late afternoons/evening
  • Friday
    • Groups in the morning
    • Travel back to Texas in the afternoon

Please be praying for:

  • Our time in Colorado and as we debrief from our time in Guatemala.
  • All attendees and Staff of DAR.
    • Some of the attendees from the Village Church:
      • The Smith Family, serving in Ethiopia (Shane and Allyson, kids: Hannah, Mia and Moses)
      • Kevin and Charissa Brimage, served in Huehuetenango, Guatemala
      • John and Alisha Forbis, Alisha was a part of my team in Guatemala City, Guatemala
      • Susan Jones, serving in Guatemala City, Guatemala
      • And myself

Why I love Guatemala!

Why do I love Guatemala you ask?  There are many reasons, but here’s a few….
  • God put it in me:
    • When I say that I love Guatemala, I truly mean it.  It’s a love that I can honestly say that the Lord put into me long before I ever even step onto a plane to go there.  God used several of my close and dear friends to start drawing me towards Guatemala in the beginning and then even after they returned or stopping going, continued to stir my love for the place.
  • The land is beautiful:
    • I know it’s a minor thing in the big picture, but Guatemala is great! I can’t imagine living and doing life in a more beautiful land.  I am often reminded of God’s grandness as I drive along the road, twisting around the side of a mountain covered by colorful flowers, trees and plants and overlooking a valley surrounded by mountains and volcanoes.
  • I know amazing people there:
    • On every trip to Guatemala I have met at least one, if not many, amazing person.  I love the people in Guatemala and can’t wait to be with them again.  There are children there that have stolen my heart and friends that I have gladly given parts of my heart.  It’s often hard for me to believe that there are so many people that Lord has allowed me to know and love in so many different places.  There are pieces of my heart all over the globe, but there’s a huge piece with the people in Guatemala.
  • God is doing amazing things:
    • It might sound cliché because I know that God is doing amazing things all over the world.  However, I’ve been able to see Him moving in Guatemala.  From children that have a hunger to know God and ask hard questions to students being saved, baptized and transformed to adults living out their faith while others seek to find God.  He is moving, He’s drawing hearts to Himself, and He’s transforming lives!
  • I get to be a part of something bigger and you can too!
    • I have been honored and humbled to be able to serve in Guatemala.  It has been a blessing to me to know and walk with those around me.  I have loved how God has used the last year to continue to mold me into the image of His Son and lay a foundation for the coming years of ministry.  I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time and life than loving on kids and seeing Christ’s name proclaimed!  May He be honored and glorified in all He is doing!  You can be a part of it too!  Find out how here

It’s almost 5am and I’m missing Guate…

As I write this it’s pushing 5 am and I’m wide awake and missing Guatemala.  I knew this day was coming, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised by it… and yet I know that I am suppose to be here, in Keller Texas for this season.

Tonight (or rather last night) was John and Alisha’s wedding (Alisha was with me in Guatemala).  It was the first time since being back from Guatemala that I had seen my team or some of the friends we met there that live in Fort Worth.  There was even a surprise visit from Maredith, a dear friend who lives in our neighborhood and attends the church with us in Guatemala.  It was exciting to see the fruit of the last year.  It was also good to see everyone, but it made me miss being in Guatemala with everyone I know there.

As I attempted to fall asleep my mind raced with Guatemala…. I started thinking about the people that are overseeing everything while I’m gone, the preschool, children’s and youth ministries and curriculum – a lot about curriculum – I had a huge shipment that a team gave us right before I left to come back to the states.  I labeled everything, but now I’m second-guessing whether or not I left the right (or enough instructions) for the lessons and which activity goes with each lesson –Do they know where it is? What it’s for? Is it being used?

I know that at the end of the day they don’t NEED me.  God can and is raising up leaders in Guatemala.  He can continue to move powerfully with or without me there, but I’m grateful that He has and is allowing me to play and be a part of what He’s doing.  I’m restless to be back.

Sleepless nights like tonight are reminders of my faithless heart and I am thankful that He is still faithful.  He gives grace while He stretches my faith and asks me to trust Him.  I’ll be honest, there are days that I think that it might be easier if I didn’t have to raise support again to go back, but then I would miss out on opportunities like tonight when God shows me my heart and wraps me up in His arms, reminding me of His love and who He is.

My goal is to be back in Guatemala in September.  I’d like to be back then, for many reasons, but it’s a goal and goals aren’t set in stone.  I have to trust the Lord and His timing.  There are moments it feels impossible.  I’m currently sitting at 30% of my monthly costs.  It seems daunting to see 30% and realize my hopes of being in Guatemala in 6 weeks hang on the last 70% coming in.  BUT then I’m reminded that IF I try in my own strength, it IS impossible, however, I serve a God that owns all silver and gold.  He is able if He wills, to put me back in Guatemala in 6 weeks.  I can’t do it alone, and thankfully the One that told me to go didn’t tell me to go alone.  He’s with me and the prayers and support of the Church are with me.

So the time is now:

Would you consider being a part of this journey?

At this time I lack about $12,000 in special gifts and roughly 40 monthly partners of varying amounts (meaning anything from $5 – $500).

Back in the States is a little weird….

I’ve had several people ask about the things that have been weird or that have taken time to adjust to since I’ve been back in the States.  Overall I feel like the Lord has been very gracious and I haven’t struggled in the transition as much as I thought I would have.  I know that it is the Lord being merciful and for that I am grateful.     

So here are 10 things that have been a little weird (or random thoughts) about being back (in no particular order):

  • I have often compared returning from Guatemala as walking through the closet in Narnia and I still think that is the best way to describe it.  It’s two different world connected by a flight.   
  • The number of choices can be paralyzing at times.
  • When having lunch or coffee with someone, it’s weird to hear someone say that they are ready to go after an hour.  I realize that this is often due to work or other meetings; however, I do love a 3 hour lunch, dinner, or coffee date now.
  • There’s a lot of open space everywhere.
  • I am surprised at how quickly I have come to be impatient with traffic – it’s often just a way of life in Guatemala yet here I’m annoyed by it. 
  • I second-guess my English daily, despite the fact that I used it daily in Guatemala. 
  • I always lock my car doors while driving now. 
  • Chickfila still tastes as good as I remembered
  • Background and White noise are louder than I remembered
  • I have amazing friends both in Texas and in Guatemala. AND My home group and former co-workers are better than most.