Change in the Air

We can all feel it.  A desire to put away the grammar books and draw out conversation instead.  A focus on the new home to be settled into, and release of that forever-ambition to clean the light fixture in this one.  Heartstrings tug as we do life alongside language school friends, knowing there are only a few more runs to catch together, only a few more cups of tea shared face to face.  We have four weeks left of walking the same sidewalks, shopping the same Saturday morning farmer’s market.  Being newbies together in a foreign language/culture/country has forged some beautiful connections.

And yet, this was never the end goal.  The common thread of learning Spanish has woven us together for a time, but different expressions of Christ’s love in different countries form the ultimate tapestry.  As Aragorn said to Arwen in the movie version of The Two Towers, “This is a dream.”   “Then it is a good dream,” she answered.  That is just what this time has been.

2014-04-18 Atenas House 009 colorIt’s hard to leave.  All of the questions we set aside to embrace Spanish have risen in a new tide.  Will we like our new home?  How long will it take to learn the ropes there?  Will we be good at our area of ministry?  How will our kids adjust?  All of the now-familiar paths and places will make way for another round of breaking trails—marking out the way to the grocery store, orienting to new unmarked streets, learning how to pay bills, finding the bank/doctor/dentist/hospital/pharmacy.  The structure of our days will change again.  For our family, school will move back home as most of Matt’s work transfers out of it.  This season of having my best friend by my side all day as study partner, navigator, and negotiator will come to a close.

I have felt the stress, had it nudge me out of bed to be prayed over and sorted through.  And to be honest, I have it easy.  I have a house already rented and most of its furnishings gathered.  We’re heading to a town I’m familiar with, where we already have relationships and a working knowledge of our ministry home.  My heart goes out to braver friends leaving for new countries and ministries that they’ve barely met.  If my transition is difficult, theirs is heroic.

Being a missionary doesn’t necessarily mean you are good at change, it means you keep taking steps forward until the Lord brings you out on the other side.

Breaking break for the first time in our rental house.

First lunch in our rental house.  With PB&J, who needs furniture?

Each change has a price tag, some easy, some dearly bought.  But this path of following Jesus is also blessed with celebrations along the way.  Friendships made that will last a lifetime.  Our sweet little kitchen, waiting to be filled with the smell of baking bread and meals for mission teams.  The 12 gallons of paint in our laundry room, ready to color a house into home.  Fun Spanish conversations like we had with the paint reps, explaining the English names of the colors–“What is bisque anyway?”   Little fingers and toes to hold during morning devotions.  Smiles to charm out of shy faces, laughter to share with outgoing ones.  Connecting with people from around the world with a common heart to live for the Lord.

This transition is both tender and exciting.  We are about to step into the dream that the Lord gave us at the very beginning of this journey.  Language school has been a challenging, yet beautiful time of preparation.  May the Lord bless us all as we go forward to serve, wherever He may lead us.


One Thing Remains

Language.  Culture.  Climate.  Currency.  Source of provision.  Available products and prices thereof.  Food.  Church.  Profession.  With our upcoming launch to serve at The Home of Life children’s home in Costa Rica, so much is going to change in our lives over the next year.  In a moment of humorous inspiration, I sat down and made a list of what will stay the same (mostly).  It brings me comfort to recognize some stability and makes me smile over what my heart values.  Here’s a non-exhaustive, unordered peek.

1.) Our family being together.  When the Lord called us to homeschool 5 1/2 years ago, I had a sinking feeling that He was setting us up for the mission field.  Turns out I was right.  Only now I don’t feel so sinking about it.  What a comfort to already have a good familiarity with how to do school as a family before we venture out into the nations.  The kids will attend one year of traditional school while Matt and I are up to our eardrums in Spanish immersion classes, then it will be back to the kitchen table for lessons together.  We know that this call to go and serve is for our children just as much as us grown-ups.  We have seen the impact of their smiles and Spanish phrases on Tico hearts.  They have a unique anointing that’s an essential part of what the Lord is doing.  I’m so thankful to be able to walk this path as a family.

2.) God.  Life serving the Lord in Costa Rica won’t be any more spiritual than serving Him in the Midwest  but the change is certainly pressing us into His arms.  As He meets us here, we know He will meet us there.  Perhaps even more so, because we will be so much more aware of our need for Him.

3.) Rice and beans.  It’s like a Dr. Seuss book.  We eat them here, we’ll eat them there.  We’d probably eat them anywhere.  After our first global journey to Guatemala in 2006, I started our family’s exploration into the land of legumes.  Toss a rice cooker into the mix and we had some yummy dinners afoot.  Matt is no longer dubious when I come home with a 20 lb. bag of rice.  Gallo Pinto, anyone?

4.) Books, worship, and working out.  How awesome that some of my very favorite things are completely portable.  We may not be able to drive to a public library full of material in English, but modern technology can still keep us learning, recreating, and soaking in the Lord’s presence.  It’s on our heart to start a small group that gathers for contemporary worship (courtesy of mp3 files– none of our family plays an instrument).  Thank you, Lord, for Kindles, the internet, iPods, laptops, and Jillian Michaels’ dvds.  And while the sidewalks may be more of a challenge in Costa Rica, the weather certainly won’t be, so I’ll have little excuse not to lace up my running shoes.

5.) Making things from scratch.  I may have mentioned this before, but I’m a do-it-yourself-er.    If you can make something cheaper or better (preferably both) than you can buy it, then I’m game to try it.  This especially goes for food.  Lately I’ve been aflutter to learn to make the things that we love to eat here, but probably won’t be able to get there.  Chicken Tikka Masala.  Naan.  Auntie Anne’s pretzels.  You should really come over.  Company motivates me to cook.  Part of my role at the Home of Life will be to prepare meals for visiting teams, and there couldn’t be a better spot for my heart to sing.  Penzeys Spices’ motto says it perfectly: “Love People.  Cook them tasty food.”

But where there are lessons, they will be handed in (and possibly forgotten).  Where Jillian is pounding you with reps, cool down time will eventually begin.  Intriguing plots will conclude.  Recipes will be enjoyed and cleared from the table.  But one thing will remain:  Love.  The love we share with the Lord, with each other, and with the people He puts into our lives on the journey.