In the fall of 2003, I left for Bolivia, South America as a single missionary. I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me! I asked my family members (specifically my sister) to print off my emails so I would have a record of my early missionary days. How thankful I am that now I have those memories in notebooks to help me remember God's faithfulness!
I've been reading over some of those emails recently. I'm amazed at how much I've forgotten! I'm also amazed at how much those emails have encouraged me as we serve in a different place in a different ministry.
Gerson and I have been in McAllen just over a year. I remember before we came we had talked about the reality of "starting over" in a new place. I had told Gerson that it had taken me a good year to build relationships in the city of Trinidad, Bolivia after arriving there. It just takes time to build relationships and earn people's trust. The same has been true here in McAllen. Now that we've been here a year, we are just beginning to feel like we have begun to form lasting relationships and have the community connections to do what we feel God has called us to do.
However, there are still many discouraging days ---- those days that don't go as planned. On those days, what is my reaction? To be honest, some days I cry and allow the frustration to ruin my day. Other days, I take it to the Lord and allow Him to take away the frustration and carry my load.
I want to quote something from the email I wrote after one year in Bolivia. What I wrote was true then . . . and its truth encourages me today! I won't write the whole story (for it was 4 typed pages long!), but only what my conculsion was.
Sept. 4, 2004
So, what seemed to be a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day, ended on a wonderful note, with me realizing that the Lord has blessed me with some incredible friendships here in Trinidad and Bolivia. He IS faithful, and He DOES care. Right when I get to the point of wondering why I am here, He brings a blessing and confirms this is where I need to be.
In all of this, a BIG prayer was answered. Remember when I mentioned earlier . . . that I PRAYED? What I DIDN'T tell you was WHAT I prayerd. I prayed that God would bring something good out of the whole mess. And why am I surprised that that is EXACTLY what He did? He used the whole thing to bring me much-needed encouragement, both from a fellow missionary and the youth from my church. Praise the Lord!
I share this with you as testimony of God's love and faithfulness. Many times (especially on the mission field), things don't turn out as we have planned them. In those changes, God can work and bring blessings even bigger than we could have imagined. I thank the Lord that He is bigger than anything I face. I trust He will continue to give me widsom and encouragement and remind me of His love in the days to come. . . There will be challenging days ahead, and I need special wisdom and guidance that can only come from Him."
That ---- from a rookie missionary! I never knew that God would use those words (and the whole story!) 7 years later to encourage me in the new place and new ministry to which He has called me. I'm so thankful we serve a BIG God who knows WHAT we need right when we need it the most!