I’m going to be raw and completely honest here. Missions isn’t all “fame and glory.” Yes, there are amazing days, miracles seen, huge breakthroughs with “tough” teens, heart feels full seeing people’s lives changed. But it’s also hard. It’s draining. It sucks every bit of energy out of you. The spiritual warfare is very REAL and INTENSE. There are days I seriously struggle to have the energy to get out of bed or check my phone to see more messages of others’ needs. And when you try to take a day or 2 “break,” others may judge you and say, “I did not send money to you to go on a vacation!” Or “Seriously, they act like they work hard. I do 12 hour shifts.” Missions isn’t a “normal job.” We don’t have set hours. It’s a 24/7 LIFE. It’s not a job. It’s a way of life, a calling. We don’t get vacation times or breaks. Even when we try to go away for a day or a few days, ministry stuff comes up. A patient calls and needs medications. Someone needs an ultrasound and doesn’t have the money for it. A kid knocks on our door or calls that they can’t go home right now because it’s unsafe. A family member comes for a patient who is in terrible pain and wants the “doctor” to come and see them. A baby is really sick and hasn’t had any milk for days. And the list goes on. But for the brief moments that we do get to “breathe” and spend time alone, allowing God to refresh us, it’s precious and amazing. I don’t want you to think that I’m complaining about missions or anything. Trust me, through all the tears, fears, and frustrations I may experience, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I thank God (and at times wonder why He would trust me enough to do this for Him) for putting me where He has today.
Most of you know my story of how I got here. How I hit rock bottom about 3 years ago after multiple friends had died in a short period of time. How I came to Guatemala for 3 months, and one day woke up and said, “That’s it. I quit. I’m going to quit my job and move to Guatemala as a full time missionary.” I thought I was insane. Many of you thought so too. Others fully supported me and said my heart was clearly there and to just GO. Meanwhile, during those 3 months in Guatemala, I met my husband (who was scared to death of my grumpy cat face at first and prayed he wouldn’t have to talk to me or sit by me during the whole medical trip we were on together). Last year, I moved. Ministry blew up in our faces and TOOK OFF! Medical clinics. Kids coming who needed a safe place. Youth group. Kids club. Really sick, complicated patients. I went back to the States for a few months for our last family dairy show and then to sell the family herd. When I returned, Peter and I discussed the future and decided to take the next step, and started planning our wedding. All the craziness leading up to the wedding, during, and after the wedding (we don’t seem to do anything as easily or as planned. There’s always a huge backstory of crazy events). And everything that continues in our lives and with this ministry. It’s insane. A roller coaster. You seriously can’t make this crap up. We used to say that in the ED all the time. But it’s true with missions too. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t gone through those years of pain, heartbreak, falling apart, not always handling it well, and not on purpose, emotionally hurt some people around me. I regret it. I’ve asked for forgiveness, and I’ve apologized many times. We all screw up at some points in our lives. It’s in the past. All we can do is learn from it, ask for forgiveness, and move on, even if the other person won’t accept. And in all the brokenness, God can use that. He used all the crap that happened in my life to get me here. To have met my husband in God’s timing. To quit working in the ED and move when He wanted me to, not when I wanted to. If I hadn’t experienced all of that, I would still be working at Reading in the ED and not even thought about moving to Guatemala and doing what all we have been doing this past year and a half.
Past couple of days, I have been struggling. I’m tired. Pretty worn down. Not sleeping well. Stomach issues off and on. Family drama that seems completely unnecessary. Finances aren’t were they need to be. The kids come home from school and need new shoes or supplies for projects for school. Patients call and need money for ultrasounds that a specialist ordered. Patient comes and needs medications...and by the way, need money for light bills, and rent, or else they will get kicked out of their “house” aka tin shack, haven’t had food all week. And the list goes on. After a while, it does drain you and you need to turn off your phone to give your mind a break. I’m trying to take some moments each day to just breathe. We can’t fix everyone’s problems. Actually, WE can’t do anything at all. It’s all God. We can only be used by Him to help those He places in our path to help. I wish we could pay for everyone’s medical needs. I wish we could build a proper house for everyone who lost literally EVERYTHING when Fuego erupted. I wish we could feed everyone who is hungry. But we can’t. We live in a fallen world. The more you look, the more brokenness you seem to find. But if you look closely, you can see such huge blessings and miracles.
Yesterday afternoon, we went to Palin (where the mission house is), and there was a 7 year old boy at the house. I took some time to play basketball with him. And we practiced counting while bouncing the ball. This kid no longer goes to school because in his words, “The teacher said I’m not learning anything anymore. So, I must be stupid. So my mom pulled me out of school.” This kid is NOT stupid! He’s dyslexic. He needs some serious one on one time. But the public schools here can’t handle that. So this kid now believes that he’s stupid, when really he’s super gifted in music. Then, we went down to the family with the baby missing most of her brain (Dulce). If you don’t believe in God, just take one look at this baby. She is now a year and 7 months old and was told originally that she wouldn’t live past 7 weeks old. Then was told that if she lives past a year, she’s a miracle. Well, she’s a miracle. She’s gained so much weight and has 2 little teeth showing in the front. She follows you with her eyes as you walk in a room and turns her head if someone talks. The parents were told in testing at 4 months of age, when we first met them, that she couldn’t see or hear. Last night, the parents literally cried when we arrived. The mom said that she had been praying and telling God how she is at the end of her rope, doesn’t know what to do. They don’t have money for food, rent, let alone medications for Dulce now that she has a fever again. So something as simple as us showing up last night with ibuprofen, cough medicine, and medicine for a cold, we were an answer to her prayers.
We’ve been in situations where money is super tight. And it’s still something that I’m not completely used to since I used to have a set income when I worked in the States. But God has been teaching me to try to let go of everything, give it all to Him, and He will provide exactly what we need, when we need it. Is it hard for me to do that? Yes, absolutely. It’s not something that one day I struggle with and the next day, everything is peachy and I don’t stress out about it. I’m trying. It hasn’t been easy. But I think I’m getting there, slowly. He is our provider. He has Peter and I on this crazy journey with this ministry and all we can do is what we are called to do and allow Him to do the rest, to work through us and to provide everything we need, when we need it. It’s not our money. It’s His. And life isn’t all about money. Yes, we need it to pay for things that we need for the ministry: meds, tests for patients, rent, food, youth, kids’ club, etc. But it’s about the relationships we are forming and helping others to see that God is the answer. People come to us and ask for money for their rent, light bills, food, etc. But they also need someone to listen to them, to talk to, to pray with them that God would provide those things. Everyone has struggles, no matter where you live, whether you live in the States, 3rd world country, or Europe, or anywhere. Everyone experiences heartache, some more than others. Some people can’t seem to catch a break no matter how hard they try. Others have it pretty good. No matter where you are, look around you and I can guarantee that you will find at least one blessing. If you start to train your brain to think that way more, more positive, looking for the blessings in this life, you will realize that you begin to see the good in this life and not be as negative, no matter what life throws your way.