Do you all have something that’s so close to your heart it’s almost impossible to share about it? It’s been killing me that I’ve been working on this blog for a while and not really written yet about our family’s time serving in Mexico. I realize though it is because what that time means to me is just so big and so close to my heart that I can’t do it much justice in trying to explain because I know I’m doomed to come up short.
But yet, I still want to try . I’ve been thinking about our time there a lot lately as we have been settling into our new life here on the west coast. My husband has been blessed this last month with getting to visit our old home in Mexico more than once and I’m so happy for him and so jealous too because I miss it so much.
It’s funny though, because if we rewound our memories to 10 years ago, I would have never thought I would feel this way now, looking back so fondly on those years.
When we first moved to Mexico, we did it because we believed it was what God was calling us to do. Our pastor shared with us that there was a need for a couple that spoke Spanish to help with the training center there. I didn’t speak Spanish, but Bren did, and we prayed about the opportunity, and although we were nervous, we were so excited. A lot of people were excited for us too, but one thing we weren’t expecting were the many ominous warnings we got. Like, “don’t go there–you’re gonna die”. I’m serious you guys, someone straight up said that to us. Others told us our marriage wouldn’t last if we went. I laugh about it now, it’s so funny how encouraging some of us can be huh?
For me, I was a newer believer, but Brennan had known for years that God was calling him to the mission field. When we met (which you can read about here) it was actually on the mission field in El Salvador, and when we were getting serious in our relationship I knew that marrying him meant that we would spend time serving out of the country. I prayed and prayed because I knew I was called to marry Brennan, but the thought of whether I was called to be a missionary loomed in my mind. God really blessed me with some personal confirmations of my calling. In one confirmation, He led me to read Acts 20:22-24 which was my first time reading it ever, and since then has been probably the most important verse of my life.
“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”Acts 20:22-24
After the first time I read those words I was like, “Oh my gosh, those people were right– we are gonna die!” Well not to spoil the ending,but we didn’t lol. But, we did go, fully trusting that God was the one calling us, no matter what everyone else was saying, because we wanted to follow Jesus.
When we got there though, things were pretty hard the first couple of years. We found out a few weeks before we moved that I was pregnant. I wasn’t like the delightfully pregnant lady, I was like, the throwing up every 30 minutes, crying the other 30 type. Brennan spoke Spanish, but I didn’t yet, so that made it hard to settle in without being able to build relationships on my own. And some of the only other people that spoke English flat out told me they didn’t like me and that I wasn’t what a missionary should look like. They also actively told other people some mean things about us. To make it worse, there wasn’t much ministry going on at the ministry at the time, and I certainly wanted to just crawl under a rock, or hide in my house, even though it was overwhelmingly hot inside and regularly swarmed by some interesting bugs.
And so, we would come back to the US every six weeks for my doctor’s appointments and I would just cry the majority of the drive back because it was so challenging for me to return to that situation. But we still went back, because of God’s grace we didn’t quit, and somehow clung on to the faith that He had called us and it was for a reason.
I just want to encourage you, if you are in a season right now that you feel that you were called to and it isn’t quite going so smoothly, it’s okay. And it’s okay if you don’t have all the feels about your season. Just keep clinging on, God is still with you and will help you and has good plans even in these hard moments. I’m telling you, if you told me back then that I would be wishing I could go back to those moments, I’d think you were out of your mind.
But, eventually, things did get better. For us the real breakthrough was with prayer, period.
We would be on our knees just crying for God to show us what He wanted us to do there and to give us the strength and courage to walk it out. I would pray and pray that God would help me to learn Spanish and send friends. In time, we watched the Lord do amazing things through His ministry there. We saw many come to know Him through Bible studies in orphanages and rehab centers, an internship program start up, a church planting school begin, and really sweet relationships form with friends there that still hurts our hearts to be away from them. We watched as He grew His ministry and would bring others alongside to help. And God stretched and blessed our hearts so much as we just fell so in love with the people and the culture there. It was like watching God give us a desire of our hearts we didn’t know we had, but He knew all along.
And then, after a little more than seven years, we began to hear God telling us it was time to go. And I dragged my heels. The leaving was so much harder than all of those tear filled drives back during the first couple of years. Mexico had become our home, the only place we had ever lived for a long time as a married couple, where our kids had started to grow up, and the relationships were ones that had been forged through thick and thin, through serving side by side in joy and in tears too. But, that same verse came to mind, the one that I thought we were gonna die about. Maybe we did die a little, if anything though, just to ourselves, but the life in its place was so much better than we could have ever imagined for ourselves.
And as God was calling us on, as much as we knew He had things for us to walk in, we also knew we could trust that it meant He had good plans for His ministry that we were leaving behind as well. It has been such a blessing since we’ve been gone to see how He has continued to grow His ministry there and flourish it more and more through the friends that continue to serve Him there.
Our time coming back to the US was challenging as well, but God of course thought through everything. He totally provided by sending us to New Hampshire where we could live with family as we were getting used to living in the US again. We were weird the first few months, maybe the first year, not gonna lie. Reverse culture shock is a real thing. But, we were so blessed to serve at the church there and grow in our faith and love of ministry again before He called us back to the west coast where we now get to serve in missions again, but from a support standpoint. We never imagined we would get to go back to the same place we served in Mexico and be a part of it again!
I wish that I could wrap up these thoughts in some kind of neat application, but I don’t think I have a tidy box for it all. But, I can encourage you that—you can trust God in His calling, to and from and during the in between. And that if you’re in a hard season, I know it’s so difficult to keep going, but just keep drawing close to God sister, keep praying, He does hear you. And if you ever need a friend, I’m here too =). And also, of course, remember that Mexico is amazing, and the people there are some of the best.