Holding Fast

Hello Dearest Friends!!

I hope this finds you well, and ever growing in your trust in the Lord in these difficult times with the scare of the Coronavirus!

Enjoying the “costanera” (sidewalks/park along the river) with special friends was the best after being away so long!!

I MADE IT TO PARAGUAY! It’s been just under a month now since I’ve arrived back! The 6 short weeks between buying my ticket in Jan and leaving on Feb 20th FLEW by! There were many goodbyes to be said, last minute shopping trips to make, snuggles with nieces and nephews to savor, youth group winter camp to attend, and bags to pack. They were some crazy weeks, but the Lord was gracious with each second. I’m so thankful for the special moments He gave!

The goodbyes were harder this time around…
Youth Group Winter Camp!

My home church, Graham Community Church, did a lovely cake reception on my last Sunday, and it was so beautiful to be able to say goodbyes and hug (without fear of catching something, am I right?! 😉 ) before taking off. A dear friend threw a tea party for me, which was so nice! And I was blessed with special, more intimate moments with family, and some of my friends too. The Lord was so kind to send people to love on me so well and encourage me on my way.

Last Auntie/niece hang out! These girls are some of my fav humans on earth!!
my home group! they are marvelous people!!

I’ll share about the Coronavirus and how its affecting life a little bit before I get into too much of the update, as some concerned people have been asking. Here in Paraguay, things started closing down on March 11th. So, no school or university, no sporting events, no church services, and basically anything that would require a group setting. I have friends moving to Germany (or that’s the plan anyway…) at the end of the month and we even had to cancel their goodbye party! We are STRONGLY encouraged to stay home, and most everything is closed. The supermarket remains open, but they are taking lots of precautions, cleaning everything often and checking everyones temps before they even let you in the store. We have a curfew from 8 pm – 4 am every night to keep people from continuing to play soccer or whatnot, as they had been ignoring the previous call to not congregate. BUT, amazingly, in our city of 524,000, there have only been 9 cases so far. Praise God! Because we actually have a CRAZY low number of intensive care beds here, so it would be pretty devastating if it moved quicker.

So, you may be thinking, “What have you been up to? What are your future plans?” I took a couple of weeks to settle in and adjust to life in Paraguay once again, saying hello to my friends and family here. They were some beautiful moments, and I’m so thankful for their love for me, and desire to spend time with me and catch up with me and hear about all the changes that are to come. They also seem to be quite excited that I will now be staying here in Asuncion. 😉

Some of the ladies the Lord has blessed me with to have as friends here in Asuncion

If the Lord allows, I am headed to the Chaco at the end of this week to collect my things and move them back down to Asuncion. I had planned to go to the village to say hello and to fill my Enlhet friends in, but we have been told that we cannot go into the tribal communities at this time if we have been in places where there was possible exposure to the virus, so that will have to wait for another trip in the coming months once things have settled down. But, I’ll have to pack my things up differently in order to move them back down here to Asuncion, renew my drivers license and vehicle registration, change my phone plan, have meetings (if possible), etc., so there won’t be a shortage of things to do, as long as places stay open! As well as hopefully being able to visit some friends from Filadelfia and say hello to them after being gone so long.

Upon my return from Filadelfia, I’ll be able to move into my house (which is owned by the mission, and comes at a great low monthly cost for me!!) and be able to start meeting with my leadership and team to begin talking about our vision for Mobilization in Paraguay! I’m excited to be a part of the conversations about it, and expect that the Lord is already preparing minds and hearts for this!

I was able to be here to celebrate a friend’s birthday!! He’s a leap year baby! 🙂

It has been a bit of a hard transition for me, as it usually is. It has been a challenge trusting the Lord with the timing of it all, and I have fallen into the trap of letting my anxieties take over more often than I would like to admit, questioning how things are playing out, and doubting the Lord’s beautiful, good, and perfect plans for not only my change of ministry, but for how my short time back in Paraguay has and will continue to play out, and also with the Coronavirus outbreak.

I have been pondering anew Matthew 6:25-33,

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Though I may not be worrying about food or drink or clothing, there are many things that pass through my mind these days that cause me to realize I am that “you of little faith” He mentions here. What beautiful examples Jesus gives me here of how if God cares for the little birds, or the field flowers, how much more will He take care of me? It has been a wonderful challenge to me to think rightly about those things that cause me to worry. It especially is good for me to stop and consider where I am placing my trust… Is it in my best well-made plans? Is it in my health and the health of those around me and my loved ones? Is it in an open border, that now seems to be closing more and more each day with this spreading virus, making the chances for me to fly home (if need be) impossible? Is it in how others are responding or will respond to me?

OR is it in the Lord, God Almighty? Creator of Heaven and Earth? In He who feeds more than 5,000 people from 7 loaves of bread? Who calms the sea with His word? Who cares for the smallest of sparrows and elegantly dresses the littlest of the lilies? Will I trust in the One who knows my needs and seek His kingdom above all else? Will I trust Him enough to heed the following each moment of each day??

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Lord, I pray I am willing to deny myself, losing my life, entrusting my plans, my ministry, my LIFE (and the lives of those I love) to the hands of the One who came, denying Himself and taking up His cross for me… To He who gained access for me and won me a relationship with Elohim, the Creator, the Almighty God, who cares for me, and has promised to be with me until the end…

I know I’m already doing a lot of quoting, but I’ll end with lyrics to a song that He has been encouraging me with these last weeks, which through tears I have prayed over and listened to on repeat… One that is so helpful for me in times of uncertainties.

When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight
When He comes at last!

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast.

"Merienda" aka snack, with my Paraguayan sister!
“Merienda” aka snack, with my Paraguayan sister

Praise the Lord, He is holding me fast despite whatever is happening around me!! My I ever cling to Him and His beautiful, unfailing, loving arms that are forever holding me tight. ❤️