A year and a half ago, all my dreams came crashing down.
My dream to go to Central America. My dream to be on the mission field. My dream to work with orphans. I was two days away from seeing all of that realized, and it was all stripped away.
Before the stripping came, in the weeks leading up to my intended departure for Nicaragua, I became more and more excited to go. Preparations had me dreaming of the ways God would use me and the ways He would change me. My love for Nicaragua and the people I would meet there surprised me, and made the pain of letting go all the more piercing.
I knew that the Lord had a purpose in the midst of all that. I determined to cling to that, even if I never saw the reason. Sometimes I would wonder if I should have pursued Nicaragua at all, but the Lord gave me a deep assurance that at no point had I strayed from His will. So I moved forward, wondering what He was up to, but leaving everything in His hands.
The Stage Set
A dear friend of mine, Ruthie, was in town as I was walking through all this. This little point of trivia will become important soon. 😉
When I couldn’t go to Nicaragua that summer, I decided to attend some education classes at Ellerslie. There I met Dani, a fellow teacher and lover of Jesus. She also got to walk with me through the end of my Nicaragua journey, and became a sweet friend.
I continued to live life, walking in simple obedience each day, learning to live for Jesus in ordinary life.
At some point in all of this, I heard about a friend who had been able to spend time serving a family on the mission field in the Middle East. She primarily taught the kiddos so that the mother was able to focus on learning the language and serving the people. I thought to myself, That’s what I want to do on the mission field someday.
The Story Unfolds
Throughout my journey with Jesus, I’ve always felt a conviction that I shouldn’t pursue missions. I should live faithfully for Jesus and take whatever training I could get for missions, but not take the initiative in getting on the field. I don’t know why the Lord has lead me in that way, and I certainly don’t think that’s what everyone should do who wants to become a missionary. And maybe someday the Lord will lead me to actively pursue being with a certain organization or being in a certain place. For now, my story has been one of waiting, resting, and watching God work everything together.
Last year, in the fall, Ruthie and Dani went on a trip to visit a children’s home in… you guessed it… Bolivia. While they were there, they learned that the missionaries heading up the orphanage really needed a teacher for their kiddos, so that the mama could put more of her time and energy into the children’s home.
At some point during the trip, they both thought of me. Ruthie told me a month or two later about the opportunity, which lead to me being introduced to the Yoders, which lead to me flying to Bolivia.
The Curtain Pulled Back
Sometimes disappointments hit us and we never know why. I feel like I’ve had a special privilege in getting to see how my disappointment with Nicaragua lead me to the place I’m at now, and prepared me for the place I’m in now.
It’s beautiful that I’ve been so slow at getting my backstory out there, because just this week I realize another big way that Nicaragua prepared me for right now. Bolivia is currently in political turmoil. Violence in the streets, protests, blockades, food shortages. These really haven’t affected me all that much, but it is pretty bad in other parts of Bolivia. As I write this, the American embassy currently recommends that American citizens leave Bolivia.
This could have caused me to plummet into a whirling mess of “WHAT DO I DOOOOOO.” But I’d already thought through that. I’d already decided how far I’m willing to go. I’d already learned the leading of the Lord and how to know when He’s saying stay and when He’s saying go. I’d already counted the cost, learned that Latin America often has protests like this one break out, processed what it might mean if I were in the midst of one.
All because of Nicaragua. As things started to escalate here, I didn’t have to go through the same wrestling and figuring out of things that I had to last year. I already had a framework in place for civil strikes – which I’m guessing a lot of American’s don’t have, haha.
So not only did God use Nicaragua to being me to Bolivia, but He also used it to prepare my heart for what lie ahead. And even now, I know He is preparing me – and you! – for everything He is going to lead us into next.
The delay in having my dreams fulfilled caused some extra specifics to be added on. Now here I am, teaching in South America, serving, learning from, and living very closely with a missionary family, and getting the immeasurable privilege of loving and serving orphans. And so God worked out everything for my good, something I know He will continue to do, above and beyond all I could ask for or imagine.
The Desires of Your Heart
Friend, live for Jesus in every day. It is the small steps of obedience that we take in the ordinary that eventually take us down the path to the extraordinary. Put Jesus Christ first, dear ones, and everything else will fall into place.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4, NASB
His love for you is so great, He’ll likely even give you those dreams you thought didn’t matter – like seeing the stars from the Southern Hemisphere. Or encountering a wild tarantula. Or having a pet scorpion. And those can be the most fun sometimes, because it comes as a delightfully awe-striking surprise when you’re so caught up in love for Jesus that you don’t even see Him fulfilling those desires until you have them.
I think our God likes surprises.