"My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be...." Psalm 42:4 (NLT)
Greetings from the field as we recently celebrated our 1 year mark of being on the field. And as I look back there are several things that stand out to me. The biggest is the amount of grieving we have done in a little over a years time. We really had NO idea just how much grieving we would do or all the things that we would grieve. Some things we knew would be hard and we were expecting - like missing our family and friends, our church family, our home, our jobs, our neighborhood, our first world comforts etc. Then there were the things that we didn't expect - like our favorite places to eat, holidays, some first world comforts that we took for granted, not having to think about day to day task, familiarity, watching EVERYTHING we were missing on social media, conversations in your mother tongue (other than your family living with you), christian radio stations, and being there with family and friends when they were encountering hard times and needed us to love, hug and pray with them. Some of these unknown things would hit us hard on some days.
Second would be the things that we would learn about ourselves and each other. When under so much stress it doesn't exactly bring out the best in us. In fact to be quite honest it probably has been one of the hardest times in our marriage and parenting. Trying to adjust to all the changes, trying to grieve everything we have left behind, trying to learn a new language, a new culture and navigate a new city and life has been extremely hard, lonely, and trying!! But God has been with us, although the enemy has been trying to make us think otherwise. I found the new life even harder to settle into than I expected. Each day I struggled to find joy in our new life. EVERYTHING was hard and a struggle even down to cooking (which I have always loved).
It seemed that social media was making it worse so I just stopped getting on for a while and then was very selective as to what I would look at so I couldn't be reminded everyday of just how much we were missing, just how much everyone else's life seemed normal, familiar, filled with first world comforts and surrounded by family and friends! I was watching my child struggle with anxiety attacks, physical sickness, sadness, anger and loneliness while watching all her friends get their permits and licenses, participating in things they enjoyed, going to dances, hanging out together, being recognized with awards all while being surrounded by family and friends. I felt as if we were in the boxing ring with the enemy and he seemed to be winning. We were fighting big battles here - ALONE!!
There were more days than I care to admit that I was ready to pack up and come back because honestly, it just seemed easier! I was exhausted, physically sick, emotionally spent and tired of seeing the enemy reek havoc on my family. I looked at our situation and realized that most of these things will never change here on the field so I needed to count the cost. I thought that I had done that, and to a certain extent I had. See things don't always happen as we think they will and God's ways and plans are higher and better than ours, even when we don't feel like they are. We came here thinking we knew where we would be, what we would be doing, the team we would be serving with etc. But God had other plans that we didn't know until after we had been here. And here we were staring at a God sized task in ministry, as new struggling missionaries on the field, which was putting us into another arena with the enemy for more battles, more sacrifices and more change and I was overwhelmed.
Then one morning while reading God's word, crying out in desperation for relief, asking for a break from sacrifice after sacrifice and telling God that I didn't think I could give up anything else or continue to live like this.......He spoke to me through His Word about my specific challenges. He took me to Philippians 2:1-18. His word came to life, jumped off the page and slapped me in the face - thank you Lord!! Sometimes when you are on the front lines, it's hard to remember the basic and simple things. I had forgotten who my example was and who I was to be like - how could I have forgotten such a simple thing? When I read these verses and saw ALL the sacrifices that Jesus made, I realized in that moment that they were additions NOT subtractions. He didn't lose anything as much as he added something. He went from being the most honored in heaven where He received continuous praise to taking the place of a criminal on a cruel Roman cross - humiliated, rejected and ALONE!!!
Suddenly the pain I was feeling had new meaning. It didn't go away, Jesus' certainly didn't, but now I saw it from a different perspective. I started to understand more clearly the sacrifices Jesus, the son of God, made for ME!! He gave up ALL of His comfort, honor and glory for sinners who would reject and crucify Him just so He could reveal God's saving love to a dying world. Earthly sacrifice isn't the end of the story or the end of the world. I now understand that it is a path that will teach me (all of us) more about being like Jesus, more about what it means to serve rather than lead.
I can honor the Son's sacrifice for me by being willing to make tough sacrifices (remembering that they are additions not subtractions) to accomplish God's will for my life. Learning to accept that God allows suffering and sacrifice into my life for His glory and my good. It is a step toward becoming more like my Master, my example, my Lord Jesus Christ. So I now hold even more firmly to the Word of Life, finding joy and rejoicing over the additions to our lives because God is working in us and giving us the desire and power to do what pleases HIM!
There are still hard days and days that I see many things as subtractions instead of additions and many days that the enemy will have me believe his lies. But remembering Christ's example and keeping Him as the center of my life, He will be the source of my joy. I am discovering that heart felt joy in Jesus. He is the power behind my ability to endure any circumstance. Although the God we meet in Jesus is the God who serves us, He also commands and gives - great power to accomplish His glorious will. Life is really about Jesus. Jesus is what really matters and He is the reason for JOY!!
Thank you to those who continually pray for us, encourage us and support us! You all have no idea just how grateful we are for each of you and how much you mean to us. I apologize for the long time between updates, we aren't pros at this and are learning a lot through our mistakes as newbies on the field. We appreciate so much your patience as we walk this path God has laid out for us here to serve the Deaf of Mexico.
Blessings to you all,