Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When God Says...

Another helpful and fun book for your Amazon wish list is Diving Off the Pedestal, by one of my closest friends and coworkers, Lila Joy Quezada. She’s another down-to-earth, very genuine person you will appreciate. In her book, Lila tells the story of how her family came to join us nine years ago as a result of a timely (God-orchestrated) email from Jim and me.

The rest of the story (shortened blog version) is that we had been discussing with the president of our sending organization our desperate need for more workers on the field. Sadly, even if we recruited someone that very day, I told him, it would take at least a year and a half for anyone to go through interviews, orientation, support-raising, packing, language learning, and house-hunting before finally beginning to work with us. Surely God saw this crisis well ahead of time and had already prepared someone in advance. Right?

Within 24 hours of this discussion, we received their prayer letter, asking people to pray for direction for them. After 12 years of pastoring a Hispanic church in Oregon, they felt it was time to return to Latin America. Since we already knew them from our early days in Guatemala, of course we jumped at the possibilities, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today is a different story.

Since, once upon a time, God provided a coworker for my husband, a dear friend for me, and many companions for all of my children among the now 8 Quezada kids, I was ever so hopeful that God would work a similar miracle and bring the “Hayes Zoo” (one of our faithful WOTH readers) and family to work with us. They, too, already spoke Spanish and were already working in Latin America. They also had children who were becoming good friends with my youngest two. It all seemed so perfect…until we got their email indicating it’s just not going to happen. After a few months of unsuccessfully trying to raise support, the door is closed tight. They are settling back in the U.S. instead.

Now we are back in the position of praying for a younger couple like the Hayes, who might catch the vision for reaching unreached non-literate people groups in southern Mexico. While personally disappointed, my heart really goes out to the Hayes family back in limbo, readjusting to life in America. Their question is “How do you respond when God says ‘No’ to something you think is just perfect?”

IRL*How would you answer them?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Used To Be My Least Favorite Question

A few weeks ago, we discussed my second least favorite question, “Where do you live?” Today I will confess what used to be my least favorite question: “When are you due?”

Just before we left California, I met one of my neighbors at the mailboxes. She was shocked after asking “the question” to discover that, in fact, I am not pregnant. After all these years, I finally came up with a response to put people at ease. I told her that I really need another major surgery to repair this deformity, but I’m not willing to risk my life when it’s more fun to watch people squirm after blurting out the question.

Of all the strangers who have innocently inquired about my baby-that-isn’t, this woman had the nicest comeback. Without a blush or apology (the usual reaction), she said, “I just noticed how you are so happy and glowing, that I assumed you had been blessed with a late life surprise, and I wanted to rejoice with you.”

In case you ever make the mistake of asking a non-expectant woman this horrible question, please concoct a similarly gracious reply.

What gives me hope is that on a good day, people respond to the evident beauty of Christ reflected in my life, wrinkles and poochy stomach and all. Little by little, I am gaining victory over my sin and flesh, and learning to apply the power of the gospel even in the mundane struggles of life. The fact that I was not embarrassed helped the mailbox lady to be at ease after her “bloop.” She wasn’t even apologetic. I love that.

Rejoicing over this blow to my usual sin of vanity, it seemed a contradiction to then attend a formal social gathering where appropriate MOG* (see sidebar) attire required me to squeeze into that torture contraption known as “shapewear.” Ugh. Even then the dress did not fit properly.

My mom always says, “You can’t have looks and comfort.” In this case I achieved neither, and I have serious regrets. I enjoyed watching my husband and kids enjoy themselves and each other, but I was too physically miserable to enter into the fray at the reception. For that I am sorry.

There, I said it. Keeping it real. The dress will not be worn in Mexico or anywhere else. I’m dumping it at Goodwill this week. Next time I will wear a tent if necessary, just so I can breathe and be myself. By then, maybe I will obviously be old enough to avoid “the question.”

From my summer reading program, I recommend these for your Amazon wish list:

IRL* Learning the hard way that “Why aren’t you dancing?” is worse than “When are you due?”

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bittersweet Bundt

Your heart-felt stories about the “WORST” things in missionary life leave me humbled. Each one is an illustration of our common bond in suffering for the sake of the gospel. Thank you for sharing your comments.

At times I hesitate to share from my heart, knowing how trite and silly it might sound to those who are in a truly dark valley battling for your very life and soul. However, in the spirit of “keeping it real,” I want to add a word about my current struggle.

This week finds me in Wisconsin celebrating the marriage of my firstborn, Chris (the cute one in the tub at Jungle Camp), and his bride. This is my second time as MOG* (Mother of the Groom), first in Canada, and now in the U.S. Since none of the same people will be attending, I have recycled (shortened) the same dress I wore the first time. Maybe my third son will choose a Mexican wedding, allowing me to wear the same dress yet again.

Weddings for me are bittersweet. I remember attending the wedding of a pastor’s daughter in Ohio, and being impressed that most everyone there knew the bride so well. Several stood at the podium and gave quick testimonies of how they had watched her grow into such a lovely young woman.

For Chris, it will be a different story. Only his immediate family and a very select few friends will be able to attend. It was the same when my son Tim got married. I find this to be a tragic side effect of living overseas. It’s not THE worst, but it’s on my list. There are no Sunday school teachers, Boy Scout leaders, or youth pastors who have known and loved my children. Those who share memories of Christopher’s childhood are nowhere close to Wisconsin.

In addition to this, I grieve over the fact that I haven’t been able to share special occasions with my nieces and nephews. I have missed every single graduation and wedding so far. They don’t know me very well, and I don’t know them as well as I’d like either.

My younger children cannot even name all their first cousins, some of whom they have never met. I find this to be tragic, too. After growing up with two parents who were only children (thus not a single cousin, aunt, or uncle), I always thought it would be cool to have a big extended family close by like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Instead I feel like the MOG in that movie, an obvious outsider, contributing a bundt cake, trying to fit in and enjoy my son’s new family.

Once again, in light of eternity, this is a small sacrifice. At least all seven of my children will be together this week, and one of my sisters will be there with her husband. For that, I am grateful. It will be good.

IRL* Viva La Familia~I'm celebrating my son's wedding!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is 2DAY Gr8 4 U?

My big accomplishment for June was learning to send text messages. Ever the frugal missionary, I love sending a quick text for half the cost of a one-minute call. My kids have laughed at my early attempts to use this technology. I’ve finally figured out how to punctuate, but my spelling is often intrstng. It took me a while to discover why the word “can” always came out “2n” and “will” looked like “wik.” For a while I was convinced my phone was faulty. Now I love it.

For less than a nickel, I sent a text to my college daughter to pick up milk on her way home from class one day. It was cheaper than driving a separate car to the closest store. On a side note, I do miss the corner store (tienda) back home. As slowly as I thumb type, I might have walked there and back in the same time, but I digress (and exaggerate).

All this instant communication is in sharp contrast with the total lack of contact with my husband the past few weeks. He’s been in Mexico hosting short-term teams from the States. Last Wednesday I received a couple of emails from the church whose youth team was in Oaxaca, concerned about the 6.2 earthquake not far from the ministry site.

Since they were working in a secluded area lacking cell phone service and Internet access, I didn’t expect to hear back from my husband until later in the week. I’m used to that, but there wasn’t much I could do to reassure the parents back home. I was convinced the group was fine. (They were.) I later learned they had slept through the shaking; but they did not, however, miss out on the opportunity to update their Facebook status with such sensational news reports.

This incident got me thinking about the new generation of missionaries arriving on the field, both young and old. It must be difficult to adjust to the lack of reliable instant communication they are used to 24/7. What the old-timers consider a tremendous blessing, having even sporadic Internet and cell phone coverage, the new folks must perceive as a challenge.

Someone recently asked what the WORST things are about being a missionary--she wanted the nitty-gritty. The inside scoop. Before I share my response, I want to pose the question to you.

Maybe for you it is the communication issue. Maybe not.

I suspect the answers will vary depending on how long you have been on the field, so please include this in your comment.

First, I want to hear from you. Next week, I’ll answer the question more fully from my viewpoint as a (reluctant) old-timer.

IRL*Now I’m tri-lingual.


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