It’s hard to believe it has been four months since we moved here to Ometepec! It’s also hard to believe that in other parts of the world it is “fall”—leaves are changing, it is getting colder…Thanksgiving decorations are out… Although it has been much cooler in the mornings and evenings, it is still very much “summer” weather during the day! I have learned so much in the past four months. It has been a challenging, exhausting, and faith-building time for me. And I know the lessons are not nearly over! But here are a few that have really stuck out.
First—THANKFULNESS and CONTENTMENT! Wow, the Lord has really been showing me my own ungrateful and complaining spirit. We have so much to be thankful for, and God has truly blessed us in many ways, and yet I can be so quick to complain and grumble. We have spent lots of time talking to our kids about being thankful and not arguing or complaining about food or about toys or whatever! The other night it was so fun to hear them just taking turns saying “thank you” to the Lord. “Thank you, God for the warm shower tonight” (to which I added, “Amen!” “…and thank you God for the bed to sleep on…and thank you God that there weren’t fireworks last nigh…and thank you God that we got to play with friends at the Deportivo…and thank you God that we got to have cereal with yogurt…” They kept going on and on and it was so sweet! I just stopped and listened and thanked the Lord for giving me a sweet picture of His grace in our lives which allows us to be thankful even for the simplest things in life!!!
Second—LIFE…LIVING LIFE is MINISTRY!! Often we are asked by friends and family back home “How is the soccer ministry going?” or “How is Ben’s work going?” I always stop and try to figure out how to answer that. And for the first 2 months I really wrestled with feeling like we needed to be “doing” more and organizing more “events” and getting more “things” started—whatever those “things” were, I don’t know!! But I have learned that a lack of water in our home can bring about a great opportunity for ministry. The other day two young men came with their water truck to fill our tanks, so we could have water! While they were filling the tanks, Ben got to talk with them and invite one of them to come out to a practice with the Maranatha soccer teams. Or maybe it is as simple as a game of hide-n-go-seek with our neighbors, or freeze tag with a group of young girls at the sports complex. I can’t even speak real well with the kids, but we sure laughed a lot! Some days it’s going to the little store my friend Pili runs at the “Prepa”, one of the high schools here, and just being there. The teenage girls ooh and awe over Lydia and Brady, with their blue eyes and blond hair, while I spend an hour or so just keeping Pili company. Or maybe it is just sitting out on the sidewalk at night and enjoying the culture and talking with people who pass by. I’ve learned that we are called to live out our ministry! Ministry isn’t something that we do only from 9-5, or during organized events. I like my plans—I like to know who is coming over, who I am going to the park with, and when I need to be ready to engage with people. But I don’t know many people here, and there aren’t big plans being made! Life just happens—and I can choose to stay in the safe bubble of my room, or allow God to live through me in the unplanned, often chaotic and scary, but very rewarding moments of LIFE with people.
Third—Do I really BELIEVE God is in the business of CHANGING LIVES??? Catholicism runs deep here—the roots go deep, and it is so ingrained in the culture here. Often I have found myself doubting whether God can really change these people. I’ve been so convicted about how SMALL I believe God to be. He is such a GREAT BIG GOD, and He is the one who changes lives. He is helping me to see the power of the GOSPEL—first in my own life, and then in the lives of those around me!!!
Fourth—I still don’t like MICE!! But I have dealt with them rather calmly, I must say!
Fifth—Mosquito nets are great at keeping out the bugs and mosquitos as long as they don’t get in to begin with, otherwise they are better at trapping them in. They work well to keep a majority of the dirt off the sheets—although there still seems to always be a thin layer of “sandyness” on the bed when you climb in!! But perhaps the most surprising thing about these bug nets is that they are incredible at keeping any type of air flow OUT!! Hence, bug nets on every bed—none of which is being used at night! Hoping the ceiling fans will accomplish both tasks—keep air flowing and keep mosquitos flying away!
Sixth—There are seven major ingredients to Mexican dishes…sour cream, cheese, chicken, potatoes, salsa verde (with lots of spice!!), tortillas and lots of OIL!!! The first three meals I was introduced to used these same seven ingredients, just all in a different form! But I LOVE the food here!
Seventh—God SEES ME! I have learned how much I seek the affirmation and approval of people. I want to be seen by people, to be understood, to be affirmed for what I am doing, to be known. And with the lack of depth in relationships here, aside from with Ben, it has been lonely and hard in these ways. Yet in this struggle, God has revealed my heart and He has taught me that He is the ONE who always SEES me, who KNOWS me, who CARES for me in deep ways! Although I still miss the relationships, and long for those, God is showing me how sufficient He is!
Eighth—And finally for now, I’ve learned that there is no better place to be than in the HANDS of GOD! He is so GOOD, so FAITHFUL, so LOVING! The joy of the Lord truly has been our strength in these 4 months! He hears the cries of my heart, He sees me throughout the day, He knows me…and He is walking right with me through this incredible journey.