We’ve been largely absent from the land of internet the past month. Our move to La Paz went smoothly, and we want you to know how much we appreciate your prayers! We moved into our new home a few days before Christmas, and are slowly making it feel like our home. Pete worked on the Ranch for the first time today; he came home thrilled and is so excited for everything to come. I am planning to go into Marquez de Leon next week and begin volunteering with the local social workers. I want to get to know them and those they serve and what programs they have and how they run before I voice any ideas of my own…that will be a ways down the road! Pete and I have a lot to learn, and it feels so overwhelming most of the time. We go to bed looking at each other and we often voice the thought, “What in the world are we doing????” Is that too honest? Sometimes I feel a scary pressure that tempts me to gloss over the hard parts and the uncertain parts, you know? Probably like most of us do, no matter where we are in the world. Being that it’s a new year and all, and being that we just moved to this place…this city we’ve been talking about and dreaming about and praying about for more than 2 years…I figure it’s a good time to think about goals. And then I get slammed back to square one by God…He keeps reminding me…over and over and over again…in a very clear way, that He wants my faithfulness and obedience. God’s ways, God’s timing, not my own. Pete and I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that God called us here, to La Paz, to the Ranch, to Marquez, and we are simply obeying. The details of getting us here were amazingly worked out by God; so we have to trust in this very beginning part of ministry here that God also holds the details to what ministry will look like. We advance prayerfully, in step with the Spirit, every day asking God to give us wisdom and patience as we seek His will and His timing for what our day to day life will look like.
I have been pondering this quote by Henri Nouwen recently (especially in light of the fact that God seems to be reminding me…more than I can honestly say I’d like… of the wisdom in being present, being truly with God and therefore being with others, not just doing stuff).
“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant ministers, we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer.”
Guadalajara was a blessing, because a lot of things happened that reminded Pete and I that hospitality-the act of creating a safe place where people can be themselves free from the fear of judgement, and that friendship, and that life together is where people can encounter Jesus in our lives. Nothing spectacular, but everything amazing…because Jesus is there. Our neighbors asking us about the Bible and Jesus because they said after observing us for 7 months they had decided we actually live what we say we believe so they wanted to know more. Brenda’s gift of a bottle of perfume before we left for La Paz. Dinners with friends…friends who laughingly didn’t mind eating at the early hour of 8 because they know we’re still adjusting. 🙂 (Yes…we laugh, too, because it’s a bit too embarrassing to say we still like to eat dinner at 6.) A parting blessing from our church in Guadalajara…words and prayers said over us both that blessed us greatly.
So…welcome to 2013, welcome to La Paz. We remember what we have learned. We feel overwhelmed by what lies ahead. We lean heavily on prayers…ours and yours. We ask God for wisdom. We trust Him. And we live our lives generously and freely, inviting anyone and everyone to the banqueting table of our King, which quite often happens to be our tables, our lives, as we live out in community the salvation we’ve been so generously given.