For the people that know me well, I never in my life saw myself leaving the country as a missionary. Short-term missions—definitely, but long-term missions, not a chance. I am only credited with 24 years of experience to my name, but even though I am young, God has taught me two crucial lessons for my life:
1. He is in control and works in mysterious ways.
2. I should live my life constantly fitting myself into God’s plan and not my plan.
Because of certain circumstances, God brought me to my knees my freshmen year of college to realize that I had not totally given myself all to Him. College was four wonderful years of growth and maturing in the Lord. In my junior year, I was blessed with an opportunity to study abroad in Chile. I did not know anyone going, and I viewed the semester as a time to work on my personal relationship to God and seek him where he led me. I had no idea that I would meet a godly man dedicated to the Lord’s work in Peru, and that our relationship would lead to marriage.
On one of our first dates after our Chile semester, Greg asked me if I could be a missionary’s wife. The only answer I could come up with was “I don’t know.” That seemed to work for him, but it was the beginning of a long process for me. I was raised in a very close family. The thought of leaving them behind brings tears to my eyes, but am I really leaving them behind? My parents taught me to love the Lord with all of my heart and to trust him with the direction of my life. God gave me a love for the Latin culture in high school; God led me to Chile where I cultivated a wonderful relationship with Greg; God blessed our dating, and there is no doubt in my mind that I should be married to him. Surely God has led me to this place.
But why have I not felt passion for Peru? Why can’t I have the yearning and burden that Greg has for the city of Arequipa? These questions have caused many late-night conversations, crying, and praying with my husband. We diligently prayed for this trip to Peru to open my eyes, to give me a desire to return, to feel passion for the city. I wanted to write this excerpt to share the impressions of someone who had already seen the city of Arequipa but on this trip could look at it in a whole new way.
The city is beautiful, but more than anything, the people are beautiful. Greg wrote a wonderful summary of our trip (so I won’t go in to too much detail). After spending a week with the team in the city and witnessing the countless times God seemed to answer our prayers and set us up with divine contacts, I am confident that he is leading us there. I am a visual person. The sights, smells, and feeling of being around people with such need and with such hunger for God left a huge impression on my heart.
So am I good to go? Am I ready to leave my family behind without a tear? Absolutely not. As for now, my passion is still not for the city of Arequipa. Many cities need missionaries, and needs abound in our own backyards. My passion is for God’s work. My passion is for where I can see myself fitting into God’s big plan. God showed me a piece of his plan in Arequipa. He sent me there with two other couples also seeking his plan. He opened multiple doors for us, and gave me a new vision of seeing myself as a worker for His Kingdom there in Peru. It will be so hard to leave this place, but I cannot deny where God has led us. A song by Sara Groves entitled “Painting Pictures of Egypt” is very dear to Greg’s and my heart. If you get a chance, listen to her lyrics. Here is a short blip from the chorus:
“I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacks, the future feels so hard and I want to go back. But the places that used to fit me, cannot hold the things I’ve learned, and those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.”
Sara Groves captures the thoughts of the Israelite people as they remembered back to their time of captivity in Egypt. God led the people out of a place they had outgrown in order to spread his grace and love throughout the world. It is easy to remember the places we have been and only remember the good things, especially when our lives seem hard, complicated, or uncomfortable. But God stretches us and uses our experiences to broaden his Kingdom. Sometimes we must go through the desert to reach our destination, but in the end we will reach the Promised Land.
My Egypt is a place that is comfortable—a place where I do not stretch and use the experiences and gifts that God has so richly poured into my life. The future will be hard. I do not look forward to leaving so many people that I love and care about so many miles away; I am blessed that I am part of a Christian family that blesses my decision, knowing that it is God’s path that I am following. I cannot deny what God opened my eyes to in the city of Arequipa. There is a need there that our team desires to help fill. I am blessed to be a member of teamArequipa. I continue to pray for this mission, and I ask that you pray as well. Thanks to all of you that have so confidently supported us.