Lord willing, my first full-time Venezuelan teammate will be arriving exactly one week from today. The joy in my heart is unexplainable. 4 years ago I remember feeling deep inside my soul that God wanted to me to raise a team of Venezuelans to serve outside of Venezuela, not knowing what that would look like. Do I get a team together first, Lord? Who? Do I go first and then see if anyone follows? That's weird, though. Isn't it , Lord?
I knew of one couple with the interest in working in Spain and of a single gal who always had the dream of studying in Spain since she was a little girl. But that was about it. I had an idea of who I might like on my team, but I hadn't even approached those people about going to Spain. So I just prayed and waited.
Fast forward to September 2014: That couple? They have their letter of invitation to apply for a visa and hope to be in Spain by the end of the year. That girl? She had applied two times for a scholarship to do her Masters in Spain and was denied each time. When she surrendered that to God, he immediately granted her a visa to come to Spain and study for a year....to do HIS work. The transformation that God has made in her life and what God has used her to do in Venezuela has inspired me, and I hope to be able to labor with her for years to come as we seek to love others in Christ and spread the good news of His kingdom!
She arrives in one week. It's a big day for Gabriela. It's a big day for Venezuela and the believers. It's a big day for me. It's a big day for Spain. And without a doubt it's a big day for God! What joy!
Two weeks from this moment I will be boarding a plane in Madrid, Spain, having already flown from Granada early that morning. My sister will be with me, as she will have traveled here to accompany me on the trip home. I need it. My body is weak.
On the other end of those flights our parents will be there waiting for us. It will be a sad and joyous reunion. I feel bad for them. I've always been their sick kid. I feel bad for my siblings. My sisters and brother-in-law, too. They hurt deeply in all of this as well. And probably to a greater degree than they let me see. I hurt for my sweet sobrinos(nieces and nephews) -- what they know and what they do not know. Thank you, Lord, for my sweet family.
From there all the appointments will begin, blood taken, tests run, trips made, etc. Will I have to start dialysis? Will I start to be in pain like before? Will I make it this time? What sorrow!
Joy and Sorrow. Peace and Pain. Another post for another time.
What's so different about one week to the next? For me...right now... it means everything.
I kind of feel like I'm in a whirlwind. The kind that slams you back and forth and hits you from all sides and shows no mercy to anything in its sight.
Details. Flights. Can my sister make it to Spain help me travel back? Appointments. Blood levels. Money. Paperwork. Teammates arriving. Would that have salt in it? Revision of my Will. How can my teammates help? The right info to the right people. Cry time. Fatigue. Meds alone have a life: 1 pill 30 minutes before breakfast, 14 at breakfast, 3 at lunch, 1 at 3:30, 2 with supper, and 8 at night time. It's literally getting hard to swallow.
I also feel like this whirlwind is relatively soothing, swishing me back and forth, gently inviting me to join in.
Trust. Peace. Faith, not sight. Joy and Pain co-existing. To live is Christ, to die is gain.
10 years ago my kidneys failed. I was in a depression before that even happened, and it was a horrible experience. It was like being in a bubble and watching everyone outside trying to figure out how to help me, their mouths moving yet me not hearing. Most of the time I felt hopeless, lost, alone, despite the best efforts of those around me. I was scared to die but wanted to.
This time my life is way different. I am no longer the same. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me! I want to live out God's will for me in Christ Jesus, which is that I be thankful in all circumstances. I feel extremely connected to my family in Christ who suffers along with me and shares this burden. I need them. I trust Christ in them.
And to those who are entering this whirlwind with me, thank you for your love. I'm sorry for the pain that this causes you as well....but I'm glad we're in it together!
Well, just a few little announcements for ya'll.
1. I took off the password to the blog so that it would accessible to more people. Because of that, I have changed some names and took some stories out that were in previous posts for privacy purposes.
2. I started this blog to kind of keep an eye out for what Jesus is doing in Spain and document those things. I anticipated that being more along the lines of ministry activities and the like. It looks like it's turning a little more personal and so over the next several months this blog will go through several seasons of entries, I'm sure. Feel free to tune out at any time. ;)
3. My kidney is failing. My transplanted kidney that was so graciously given to me almost 9 years ago. For now, that's about all the information that I have. But another transplant is inevitable and so that's another reason for changing the blog up a bit.
I am going to stop here. I am on heavy medication and have not slept all night. Maybe not the time to start a season of change. :)
One Friday afternoon I was leaving Monachil in my car to go to a neighboring town to visit my friend, Sheri. I was praying in that very moment that I would be open to what the Holy Spirit was doing that I would be sensitive to His guidance. As I passed our little bus stop I see two young Asians reluctantly starting to walk up the hill that leaves our town. Figuring that they had missed the bus, I knew I had to stop. I said a quick prayer, rolled down my window and said "Les puedo dar la cola?" (can I give you a ride?)
Them: Blank stares.
Me: "A donde van?" (where are you going?)
Them: Blank stares.
Awkward 3 seconds of silence...
The girl: "Granada?"
Me: "Suben!" (get in!)
Me: "Do you speak english?"
Both the boy and girl: "YES!"
Me: "How about we speak in english?"
Laughs all around.
That's how I met William and Jill, two students who came to Granada from Hong Kong to study spanish for a short time this summer. They themselves had just met here in Granada and were sightseeing in my little town of Monachil.
I gave them a ride to Granada and learned a little about each of them on the way. They asked me what I did here in Spain. I asked them if they had heard of the Bible. They said they had. I explained that I believed in the God of the Bible and in His son Jesus. And that I came to Spain to tell the people who live here about His love for them. I explained a little about our center and what we provide. They didn't react much but we continued to talk and as we arrived in Granada they kept saying "You are so nice! I can't believe this! You are so nice!" I explained that it was a pleasure to meet them and that I hoped to see them again.
William threw his head back on the headrest and said "the pleasure is ALL MINE! This is the best part of my journey so far. I can't wait to tell my friends about this."
Jill was leaving Granada that night but William and I made plans to see each other again. This 20 year-old kid and I met for lunch a week later. I invited my teammate, Sheri, to come along so she could meet this guy. As we ate we learned more about him, his life, his family, his name. And eventually I asked him if he or his family practiced any religion. A lot of his family are buddhists, but he and his parents and siblings don't follow any religion.
I told him him that I wasn't sure what their customs are in Hong Kong about giving and receiving gifts, but that I had a gift for him. I told him that he did not have to take my gift, but that I had set it aside for him if he wanted it. It was a little backpack Bible that had been given to me. He seemed shy about it at first, but then thanked me and said "I will read it."
Let's pray that God's power is evident every time that William opens that Bible! He returns to Hong Kong today, and I have no doubt that God can do something great through him! The Truth is in his hands and I know that his heart will be pierced if he really does take the time to read it!
Highlight of the conversation:
Me: So, William, do you play any sports?
William: (chuckle) Does it look like I play any sports?
Big laughs :)