Humbling

When we left the prairie for the mission field, it felt a tiny bit glamorous.  People at church were excited for us.  The prayer ministry over us was steeped in God’s presence and promises.  Friends rallied to take care of our house (and the stuff left in it) before, during, and after the selling process.  There were beautiful heart-to-heart moments, touching gifts, encouraging words, and a crowd of our favorite faces waving farewell as we shucked our shoes for the security check in.  It made us feel pretty special.

However, the warm, fuzzy glow faded the moment we realized we had forgotten all 5 of our valuable-crammed backpacks on a bench outside of the San Jose airport.  That miraculous story was the first installment in a season of being humbled.  From a two car, comfortable income, “can do pretty much anything we need to and a good deal of what we’d like to” family, we have begun learning to do life again, from scratch.

Getting places, for example.  Being directionally challenged is tough here where streets are mostly unmarked and lined with wall-to-wall buildings.  I rely on Matt everywhere outside of our immediate neighborhood.  At this point, I could not get as far as Walmart by myself.  Some people might consider that a blessing.   I find myself nostalgic over coupons, familiar roads, and my own minivan trunk.

And let’s just confess up front that we may be conjugating 9 verb tenses in grammar class, but we really did sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” the other day in language practice.  Cabeza, Hombros, Rodillas, y Dedos in double-time is a whole new ballgame.  The substitute teacher made us do the hand motions. Then she kept changing the body parts to complete the syllabic slaughter.  When Kindermusik can take you down, you know you have a ways to go.  Learning a new language is an ongoing opportunity to lay down your pride and let yourself look foolish.  It’s times like this that I repeat the wisdom of another dear missionary, “I am not an idiot in my own language.”

Finances are new ground, too.  We are in the process of raising monthly support for our ministry here.  This means hours of phone calls each week to connect with people and invitations to join our journey.  Hours of asking for help with this work that the Lord has given us to do.  God has always provided our income, but things felt different when there was a salary-paying PT career on the books.  Employers write checks according to wage charts.  Missionaries depend on the leading of the Spirit in people’s hearts.

This sacrifice on the altar has a name: My Independence.  We are saying like John the Baptist, “He must increase, we must decrease.”  It isn’t that we are becoming super spiritual down here in the tropical humidity.  We are just more aware from this position how much we need Him, and how much we need each of you.

And speaking of you all, homesickness is sneaky.  It can catch me unaware between present and past tenses.  One moment I’m conjugating a verb in class, and the next I’m wrapped in a memory that pulls my heart back to the place we still call “home.”  Love has no problem crossing latitude and longitude.  We, however, miss real hugs, face to face conversations, and being a part of your lives in a geographical way.

Sometimes we feel as out of place as cows on a Nicaraguan beach.  But apparently, that's not as unusual as it sounds.

Sometimes we feel as out-of-place as cows on a Nicaraguan beach. But apparently, that’s not as unusual as it sounds.

Like David, we are dancing before the Lord.  The rhythm is new and our steps can seem undignified. But graceful or otherwise, we know that He loves us.  So we let go of our pride again, we release our independence, and take a new hold of His plan to use our family to serve the nations.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

 

Come Be A Missionary

The other day we had a special gathering to share some of the details of our calling and to give the children a little taste of what it’s like to be a missionary.  Much fun was had by all.  Here are some of the highlights.

Being a long ways away doesn’t mean we stop being friends.  We decorated postcards with cutouts from magazines to make it easier to keep in touch.

Unidentified Flying Object

Costa Rica is home to over 1,200 known species of butterflies.  Some undiscovered varieties were seen flying around the room.  Contrary to nature, this one later grew its pipe cleaner body and curly antennae.

Eliana and Elijah made signs for each project table.

If you could only take one suitcase, what would you put in it?  Matt’s word problem gave kids a chance to flex their math skills and think it through.  Suggestions and approximate weights were given, but remember, your bag can’t weigh more than 50 lbs.

Gallo Pinto?  What Gallo Pinto?Gallo Pinto is Costa Rica’s signature beans and rice dish, often served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The primary flavoring, Lizano sauce, makes it quite tasty.  We brought a double batch, wondering if the kids would be interested.  When I wandered back to the snack table, this is what was left.  It looks like all the little Mikeys liked it.  We also enjoyed some bananas and oranges because the warm, wet climate makes it easy for them to grow there.

Ta-da!

Houses in the tropics are more open because the weather is warm year-round.  Often a small gecko will keep you company, usually out of sight, and nibble any bugs that wander in.  God created them with a special ability to climb and even run on vertical surfaces.  Our beaded versions couldn’t zoom across the walls, but they were still a big hit.

The result: happy faces with a little more understanding of what it’s like to go new places.