As I mentioned in my previous post, my road to missions began in high school. Later, in college, I made 3 trips to Venezuela, and I was pretty sure that I would one day end up serving the Lord there. I became very close to my Spanish professor, Ava Conley, and began to go on many of the trips she organized, including to a Venezuelan preachers conference in Houston and a Thanksgiving 2000 trip to Cozumel, Mexico.
This trip to Cozumel was a great trip for me. While I don't remember all of the details and don't really have any pictures to look at, this trip changed my view of missions. Jon and I had only been dating a few weeks when I left to go on this trip but I had a feeling that he was the one for me. While I was in Cozumel I met Phil and Donna Waldron who were the missionaries there, along with their three young children. This was the first time I had ever observed a family of two American missionaries working in a foreign land with small children, and it changed the way I envisioned missions.
In fact, I came home and told Jon all about them. Their story had a big impact on us, even though I had only spent a week with them and Jon had never met them at all! That spring, Jon and I went on a campaign to Oregon together and learned about some mission points that they supported in China. We talked extensively about this opportunity, and seriously considered going to be a part of that work. We then allowed ourselves to talk ourselves out of it, because of money issues. Ever since then, I think we have both regretted that we were not bold enough in our faith to take the steps necessary to be able to spend time working for God in China. We let fear and inconvenience direct our paths instead of trusting in God with all our heart and leaning on our own understanding.
I was a little bit troubled...I had long had a dream of working for the Lord in Latin America, but I also had dreamed of marrying and having a family since I was a little girl. I felt like I was in a position of choosing one dream and leaving the other behind, and that was very difficult for me. It was so sad to me to think that once I married Jon that I wouldn't be traveling to Latin America anymore. I chose to marry Jon, though, and see where God led us from there.
Well, we stayed put and got married, continuing to live in a selfish, consumeristic lifestyle for the next 7 years. We felt like every action we took and every move we made was to try to better our own financial position or to bring ourselves more personal enjoyment. Not to say that we had fallen away from church--we were still faithful, active members wherever we lived. We had just gotten in a cycle that I believe is typical of many American families, and it's brought on largely by the pressure of our culture. We were too focused on our own lives and that was sapping all of our energy. We felt like we needed an "escape plan" to save us from ourselves.
In the spring of 2009, Jon served on a mission team in Baja, Mexico, and in June we both went on a mission trip to Mission Lazarus in Honduras. We had started bringing up our old dreams again--moving somewhere in Latin America to work with or plant churches--and we took these trips with a 'scouting mind.' We were hoping that God would give us a hint to let us know if one of these places was somewhere that he could use two eager, yet relatively unexperienced, adults who now had two small children who would now be part of our dream as well.
While we were at Mission Lazarus for 8 days, God gave us a hint, for sure. While we were sitting at the ranch in the middle of the jungle in southern Honduras, we encountered the Waldron family. The family from Cozumel. The family that had gotten us talking about a life of mission work nearly 9 years ago. They were there, at the same place as us, the same week as us. We were talking about possibly moving to Honduras as long-term volunteers, and they told us that they had just moved to Honduras that week! I still tear up when I think about it, and can hardly believe how God worked that message out for us.
It's amazing, because it's like God is giving us back that dream that we thought we had left behind all those years ago. While we have been far from perfect, we have tried earnestly to live in the way that He would have us live, and when I read "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart," I can't help but feel like that was written to me!
Since then we have talked on and off about seriously putting together a plan for our relocation. In February Jon told me that this is something that has been on his heart for months. It is something that he can't stop thinking about and he feels that he's been called to this work. I feel that same way, I'm just a little more afraid than he is.
To me, this is not just about two young college grads without a care in the world anymore. We have young children. We have a house and cars to sell. We have family that won't get to see us as much. It's not just a mission trip--we're moving. We have to find a new home. We have to get new vehicles. We have to keep our kids safe and school them. It's kind of a big deal--the logistics are a little bit threatening to me. But we firmly believe that God has led us to this decision; thus, we firmly believe that His hand will be on us during the entire journey and that He will bring us closer to Him in the process.
It's definitely a God thing.