Man Makes His Plans…
It’s June!! How crazy to think that half the year has basically come and gone so quickly!! Here in Paraguay, with the beginning of June, it usually means the cold has started, as we transition into winter. And this Michigander’s heart is happy! Though it usually is about 63 degrees during the warmest part of the day, I am preeeeetty cold! Something I never thought I would say! Haha! But comparing it to our usual temps of 90 or above, I guess it makes sense! 🙂
I continue on trying to connect and learn as much as possible from the Enlhet/Lengua Norte. My schedule has changed a little bit from when I last wrote, as life doesn’t always turn out how we think. Monday-Thursday, every morning, I head into the village to have a class with one of the 3 ladies that help me learn language. Then in the afternoons or Friday, I spend time processing the information I gleaned, organizing it, studying it, and planning/preparing for the next day/week of life/studying. I also try to come up with ways to be in the village a couple of afternoons, visiting people, or this week I will hopefully start learning to make their traditional bracelets with one of the ladies in the village. Last week I went to a friend’s house on her bday and taught her how to make cake and we enjoyed eating it together afterwards. Saturday is kind of a catch-up day at home, and Sunday I usually head into church in the village, or once a month go to church here in town so that I am able to SING to the Lord in a language I understand, as well as hear a sermon
in words I can understand. It is also nice to keep up connections with people from that church, as I attended there for about a year before working in the village. And the rest of the day is spent resting, reading, listening to sermons from home or journaling.
(Just by way of update, I had been giving nebulizer treatments to an older man, Wili, as I mentioned in my last update. Unfortunately he passed away last month. That was the first death since I have been going to the village, and as I cared for him a few times a week for 4.5 months, it was hard to hear that news. Also, I had mentioned that the ladies were cleaning the church yard once a week, well it didn’t last long. 😉 They maybe did it for about 3 weeks consistantly.)
To say these last few months have been a bit overwhelming and have not gone as planned would be a huge understatement.
I hit a HUGE learning curve as I started to transition to “village life”, and it has been a struggle finding ways to personally connect with people there, along with learning to deal with the culture shock and everything new that comes with that. I also have been bit by a black widow (taking me out of commission for 3 days), moved into a new house (it’s beautiful, and roomy, and perfect for life here!), had some precious friends visit from the states (obviously that was a planned, and very
welcomed distraction!!), been sick in bed for an entire week (the sickness ranging from strep, the flu, and finally ending with a sinus infection – all in 1 week!!), and then merely a week and a half after that, I was in an accident, as a van hit me while I was on my dirt bike driving into the village (which PRAISE THE LORD, I was not severely injured and was just out for a week, though since just 3 weeks have passed, I am still dealing with the after-effects and will see a travelingorthopedic surgeon tomorrow to makes sure everything is healing properly).
Because of all of these things, progress has been slow to say the least. And sometimes it might even seem (in my eyes) that nothing has been accomplished. It is easy for me to be frustrated with myself, at life, and sometimes even at the Lord, asking Him why I am here as a missionary, when sometimes I am not even able to be involved in the “mission”.
Then He gives me little glimpses of hope…
This is one of the my language helpers, Cristina. I’ve introduced you to her before. I saw her after a couple weeks of traveling/being sick, she greeted me with a hug and a big smile, saying she missed me, and we walked down the path, her arm around my waist and my arm around her shoulders, catching up on life (in Spanish). And a couple weeks later, at the end of my class with her, she said, “hang on… I have something for you!” and she went inside and brought me out this bottle of jam in a water bottle. Though this bottle of jam might not seem that significant to most, as she handed it to me she said, “I made this last week. And I thought, I’m going to give some to my friend.” Did you catch that? She called me her “friend”… aaaaaaand cue the tears. Tears of joy. Of thankfulness. Of gratitude. And of hope. Though I had planned out how my days/weeks would go (and even sent them to you in my last update!!), the Lord directed my steps quite differently than I would have ever imagined or hoped. And it is frustrating for me, because I have things I want to accomplish (and I want to accomplish them by doing certain things in a certain amount of time!) and if I don’t accomplish what I think I need to accomplish, it is easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that it means that I’m not doing what God wants me to do, or somehow I am here spinning my wheels not doing anything. But that is not True! In those weeks of feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing much, God has helped me to build a relationship with this precious lady!
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
And if He is establishing my steps, what more could I want? What more could I hope for? Though it may seem like to me I have not accomplished enough,
He has shown me very clearly that there are steps of friendship! Steps of hope!! Steps closer to one day being able to have those solid relationships and friendships necessary to be able to share the TRUTH and disciple these dear ladies in the Lord! God is hopefully using the times I HAVE been able to make it into the village and the time I am able to spend with those ladies as foundations of friendships for being able to build those solid Biblical foundations that they so desperately need! I’m praying for friendships/relationships like that of Paul and Timothy, “As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith…” (2 Tim 1:4-5)! Relationships that are built on living life together, through the good and the bad, built on lots of time spent, learning together, as well as based around knowing Christ (either for the first time, or more and more…).
As always, thank you for your investment in me and the ministry God has me doing here in Paraguay. Thank you for your encouragement, prayers, financial support, love, and patience as I’m figuring out what life looks like in this crazy ride that is tribal missions!! I am so thankful God has given me such a wonderful and encouraging support system, and one day in the future , I am excited to be able to share with these Enlhet/Lengua Norte ladies the awesome family of Christ they have all over the world supporting, praying, and rooting for them!!
Here are some things you can praise God with me about and pray with me about if you feel so inclined!!
1. God’s ever present love, faithfulness, and watch-care over me. He amazes me with His patience, gentle hands, and saving power.
2. God provided for a new computer! People were so generous and gave so that I would be able to have a beautiful, better-than-expected tool for life and ministry!!
3. For the great visit from friends, visits to come, and even for the trials/challenges He has allowed. Each one has been an encouragement and reason to grow and trust the Lord, convincing me each time of His great love for me and for His great love for those around me.
1. To keep my focus on the Lord – to walk with Him, growing to look more like Christ with each passing moment and living that out in faith and obedience. And that the things that I do would glorify and honor Him.
2. For encouragement in the hard moments – and there are lots. The culture shock is real, and sometimes I get chewed out (sometimes by one of the tribal from the front of a church building full of 200 people!) for not “doing it right”. Those times are hard to swallow and continue pushing ahead. So prayer that I would continue forging ahead, confident that the Lord has me here, with these exact people, and that He will be glorified through it all.
3. For continued healing for my knee after the accident, for health in general (we are headed into cold/flu season, and being with the tribal people I am now exposed to even more new germs that my body doesn’t know how to handle sometimes).
4. That I would love like Jesus – whether that be with those ladies I am seeing each week, my fellow Ethnos360 missionaries, or my neighbors.
Katie, I love reading your updates, & feeling your joy & pain as I read of your life!!! I love the verse you chose about the Lord directing our steps…so true, & humbling. May you fix your eyes on Jesus in all times & through all things, & may He encourage & speak to you daily as you spend time with Him!! Know you are loved & being prayed for!!!
PS The colors in your leg are BEAUTIFUL! (Just wish they had come through different means! ;0)
Katie Mae Sawyer
Oh, Jen! I never responded to this, I’m so sorry!! Thanks for the reply and for the encouragement! And for the prayers as well. It IS so true and humbling. And I feel like I’m NEVER going to learn the lesson. 😉 But. He so gracious and patient with me through it all. He is Good!!
HAHA! YES! Those colors on my leg were quite interesting, eh!! 😉 I’m thankful to be fully recovered now though!