Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Our First Language was Learned in the Third World

"So how has your adjustment been back to the US?" This question has come to us from many friends and family. I don't think that this re-entry to the US thing is as big a deal as it was in the past. We have Facebook, Instagram, and online world-wide news that keeps us up to date. We're plugged in to the news, the fads, and the social changes.

And yet... we cannot deny that we are inexplicably changed from the people that you once knew. That's the curious part to explain. Things are different for us, not because of the change that has happened with you, but because of the change that has happened within us.

I guess that sort of thing is a constant. Some things change, but some things never change. 

We've come to understand that we weren't on a personal mission. I mean, sure, we're on God's mission of reconciliation... but on a personal level, it's been more of a pilgrimage. It's been less about changing others and more about learning to walk beside them. Less about changing the world, and more about learning to lament... or just be alongside those who suffer. 

We've been faced with so much suffering... so many unanswered prayers... and we've had to find that God is there in the midst. We have had to learn that sometimes we are called to just be faithful, to be a constant, in a world that is simply broken. And yet... there is so much light and joy found in those shattered places.

Leading ten students though four countries in five weeks this summer has helped me to understand that while I am a part of the mission of God, my role so often is simply a pilgrimage, or a calling, to walk beside others and to love them while they cry out to God about the pain of life. I have had to learn the value of a lament. 

There is pain and brokenness in this world that is the result of a turning away from God. Surely, I am called to walk with people within this brokenness, and to join them in crying out to God. God provides the way to reconciliation through the grace of Jesus.  We must only ask for Him to just take it all.

And so... a month back in the US, we miss our friends. I miss Justin and Diane Herman, Erico and Vivian Pineda, Otto Lopez, Phil Wilson, Britt Harman, Phil Newburn, Edgar Ramos, Fontaine Greene, Eduardo Ramos, and my dear brother, Antony de Leon... and yet, I know that my God has called. 

I give God thanks for Guatemala as I dream of it each night. Guatemala has taught me my first language, Love. There is no greater command. We are to love the LORD our God with our entire being... and we are to love our neighbors as our self. This is the simple, basic truth that guides all else. After all, they will know that we are followers of Christ by our love.

And so... with this love, we pray for those that are still in Guatemala. We ask for wisdom, for them to fully yield to the Spirit as they walk in that place, and we ask that they feel the support of the family of God. God's grace is enough. That is all.

As we walk this path here, examining our options, we are aware that our time in Guatemala was a discipling, shaping time. We have found our first language in a country that challenged us to learn a second. Church, our first language is Love. It's just that simple.

Aleksandra is an amazing kid. More than anything in my life, I see evidence of God in her. Adopted from a foreign land, God uses her to speak truth and guidance into my life. This young woman teaches me how to engage love. 

These pictures are her with her friend, Max. Max is the son of missionaries Justin and Diane Herman, our dearest of friends in Guatemala. These friends were vital to our survival there, and are forever companions. So often God uses my children to show me how to embrace life.

Love. Have friends. Enjoy it. There is joy to be found in the journey. Now that we've learned the language, we're in pursuit of our next step. God has blessed us with multiple opportunities, now we ask that you partner with us to find the place where God's kingdom can be expanded. We want to engage in the life that God has created us to live.

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