Hello and Happy Fall to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere!!
Here in Paraguay we are gearing up for summer, so with that comes hotter temps and (hopefully soon!) the rain will come as well!
July was a combination of normal life and SUPER exciting, and my parents were able to come visit for the first time! To say I loved having them here in Paraguay is an understatement. I had imagined what it would be like so many times, and the Lord just blew me away with how great it was to have them here. I especially loved the time we had together with my Paraguayan host family! My 2 families finally got to meet in person, and it brought such joy to my heart! They have both been along for some really joyful and really trying times in my life and are the ones who know and understand me the best. And to see them be together, and even go on a little trip together by themselves!!, just made me like a giddy little school girl. 🙂 God has definitely blessed me with some awesome “family”. We also were able to come to the Chaco and spend time seeing my life here. We went to the village a couple of times, so they could meet my friends/language helpers, and that was a sweet time for me too. It’s fun to sit with Griselda now and she asks how my parents are doing, and it makes it extra special now because she knows them! Their visit was a big blessing to me, and they continue to be my biggest encouragers and cheerleaders in life.
August brought my cousin and best friend for a visit! It was also SOO awesome having them here and show them my crazy Paraguayan life! We explored downtown Asuncion, went to the (stinky, dirty, but always fun) huge market, and tried all the Paraguayan food we could find! We were also able to come up here to the Chaco and see life here and were able to go into the village a couple times with them too. It was really fun for me because they were brave and tried to do a mini language lesson with Griselda! So, they now understand some of the hardness that is learning this complicated language! With them here, it was a joy to paint nails, stay up hours into the night having heart-to-hearts, and just reconnect with them face to face and catch up on so many of those little (and sometimes big!) life events you miss out on when one of you lives thousands of miles away! It was a huge blessing to have them here, and I cherish the memories we made.
Once the visitors left, I expected to go back to life as usual, but the Lord had other plans, apparently. I first came down with a throat infection, followed by viral sinusitis just a week and a half later. This was even more frustrating for me, as I was ready to be back in the village when I could and study, because I was going to be having my first evaluation for Culture and Language in September/October. I also had about a week and a half of dealing with a contaminated water cistern (that also had a live snake in it, mind you), and so the stress of drinking it (after being filtered, of course) or even showering with green, stinky water is just a little bit stressful. So, the sickness combined with feelings of loneliness and homesickness (after just having people stay with me, and people from home at that!!), the contaminated water, as well as some of the same expectations and pressures that I have with “village” life with the Enlhet, and things not working out with a couple of my language helpers (meaning I am now down to 1) made for a couple of hard months. As I processed all that was happening and how my body was even responding, as I look back I think I was on the edge of burnout.
But God is SO good! He sent people to come alongside and help me recognize and work through some of the things I could change or change my wrong thinking about. I am learning now to listen better to my body telling me when it’s time to rest – and real resting includes NOT stressing myself out and making myself anxious about not being able to go to the village or study when I physically am not able to. I am learning and working through wrong thinking I had (and probably continue to have) about expectations and not being able to live up to the “ideal” picture of ministry I have in my mind. I am learning how DEEP and PROFOUND the love God has for me is! I really like in Isaiah where he says,
“Behold it was for MY WELFARE that I had great bitterness; but in LOVE YOU HAVE DELIVERED MY LIFE from the pit of destruction.”
I am learning that these hard and trying times that God allows in my life are ALWAYS out of His great and uncomprehendable LOVE for me! And that HE always wins whatever battle I have faced, am facing now, or will face. He is always my Champion, my Victor.
To look back on 2018 and say it’s been a hard year for me so far would me a major understatement. But, to see what God has brought me through and taught me, it is worth far more than rubies, and it makes all the hard stuff so very worth it. I can’t lie and tell you that haven’t been times where I think, “Is this really where you want me to be, God? Do you want me to continue on working here in the Chaco with the Enlhet? It doesn’t seem to be going very well…”
So, I got out my journal from last year. It was last year that I was asked to consider going down the road to start working with the Enlhet and I journaled a LOT about it! It was good to remind myself of the journey of how I got here today. In one entry I said, “Though I may not be confident in the ‘whys’ or the ‘hows’ of taking this step toward the Enlhet, help me WALK BY FAITH. You’re just asking me to be faithful and follow You, you’re not asking me to have it all figured out, to figure it out, or to ‘do it all’.” And in many other entries, I was reminded over and over of how those Enlhet ladies have never been taught and discipled by another woman in their language, having God’s Word made clear to them in ways that would speak to their hearts, deep in their souls.
Remembering those things, combined with seeing and experiencing first-hand the fear that these Enlhet are bound to live in until they are set free by Truth, and some of them now being my friends, it spurs me on. It makes me want to continue in the Lord’s strength to build the relationships that He allows, learn this Culture and difficult language in the time He has allotted, and be faithful to the things He has asked me to do. Now, that may have to be at a different pace than I would prefer at times because of sickness, injury, and other life events, but being faithful nonetheless. It makes me confident that I can answer those questions of “does God really want me here or not?” with a resounding YES and walk in His Victory as I go about the tasks He has for me here. He has done great things and He has great things in store for this group of people, and I am humbled and privileged to live life here beside them.
So, would you be praying with me? Please pray for the Enlhet, that as they keep having encounters with the Living God, that the scales over their eyes would continue to fall off and that He would continue to prepare their hearts for the day that they hear Truth and can learn to walk in newness of life, free from the shackles of fear. Please pray for me as I battle physical and emotional health issues, that I would keep my eyes on Jesus and would be growing more and more in the Lord, being conformed into Jesus’ image, and be faithful to do all that He is asking of me. And pray that He would help me to love the Enlhet, and all I come into contact with, like Jesus Himself loves them.
Thanks again so much for your continued interest in my ministry, encouraging emails and texts, financial support, and patience and grace with me! I am so very thankful for those of you God has placed beside me on this journey and am often reminded that I wouldn’t be able to do it without you!
OH! P.S. I did have my Culture and Language Evaluation and I passed into the 3rd level out of 9! I was petty pumped because after the months I have had, I was just expecting to get into the 2nd level. With that being said, the levels only get harder and take longer to pass as I move up, and there is SOOO Much left for me to do! But, I was encouraged with progress. So, if you feel led, you can praise God along with me about this as well. 🙂