On May 28, 2015, we were having a hectic day.
Navigating Miami TSA with 6 children, 3 sippy cups (some of which had liquid in them…yet were miraculously approved by security!), schlepping a forgotten number of overloaded suitcases, carry-ons, diaper bags, toys and other frivolous items such as snacks for hungry children and precious stuffed animal “lovies”. Moving our family to a Third World country…not knowing what to expect even in the next moment.
All of what remained of our worldly possessions.
With the exception of what we stuffed into our “180 bus” (2001 15 passenger Dodge van) that got shipped from the Port of Fort Lauderdale, and was hulking its way through the Atlantic on board a freighter bound for Belize.
It was a day for grieving. What once was. What would never be again. I wondered how Abram felt when God called him out of the land of Ur to a place that He would reveal. Was he unsure? Was he afraid?
It was a day for celebrating. The Lord had called us to this. He had provided for *everything*! Our house in WV; which was our home and place of bliss and comfort for almost 15 years…sold in less than 4 hours! With no realtor!
But, that day at the airport was both a beginning and an ending.
Contractually, we had to move out of our house on May 15, 2015.
I tear up every time I think about driving down the driveway that last time. In a borrowed car. We had sold ours.
Tears which I have not cried before or since. Heavy sobbing. Suffocating tears. So much that I struggled to see the road. The pouring rain and my mourning made driving less than simple.
As I followed Nate, who was driving the overloaded 180 bus (at that point filled with 99.9 % of our worldly possessions; AND our family…), down Interstate 81 south to our first host home, eventually my tears subsided. Then I could pray.
The truth of Romans 8 was hitting me. I did not even know how to pray. I was so beyond being able to formulate cohesive thoughts. I was depending on the Spirit to intercede for me. It was just really a “listening” session for me.
I listened. For words of comfort. For maybe the Lord to change His mind. Maybe I would wake up at this point and be in my comfy bed in my comfy house with the freshly painted walls and newly remodeled bathrooms…and this would all be a dream.
What I did hear was this…”I am doing a new thing”. Though it was not an audible voice, it came to my ears with complete clarity.
A new thing.
The statement jolted me out of my despair, enough to stay my tears.
Even though I did not know what that meant exactly…
After the children were bedded down that night in our host home, I got my Bible out and searched. A new thing…what could that mean…?
Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.
That is where I landed.
I shuddered with fearful excitement as I realized. He is doing a “new thing” with us. Through us. In us.
us. Not just us.
The new thing is the Gospel. The Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
If you’re keeping track, we left our home in WV on May 15th. We flew out of Miami on the 28th.
Why the difference?
Our van had to ship from Fort Lauderdale. We were in WV. As always, God worked this out too. He provided host homes for us to stay along the way. Some we had met before, some not. They provided us food, shelter, and much needed love as we were each sorting through our own emotions as we made our way south.
We gave our borrowed car back to its owner, and I joined Nate as co-pilot for what would be a memorable ride.
Our “180 bus” parked in the driveway of loved ones in SC.
The freight company shipping the van told Nate to have the van at the Port on “x” day. Nate arrived at the Port on that day, to find an empty facility. He drove around, lost in the labyrinth of side roads looking for the shipping company. He wasn’t alone for long, though.
Two armed officers pulled him over and asked why he was there on the holiday…with a 15 passenger van full of boxes….
Long story short, which thankfully did not end up with Nate in the slammer…the guy at the freight company had given Nate the wrong date.
When the Lord saved me (15 +/- years ago…), He put a song in my mouth.
I mean literally. I was picking up my mom from a Bible study at her church. As I dutifully drove there to pick her up…I asked God (who I had been mocking and railing against previously….), “Who are you?? That all of these people, would spend their time reading a musty old book? Would get together all sorts of days of the week…when they could be doing other things…?”
In those moments, as I drove to my mother’s church, I saw who God was. Is.
He showed me His glory. Not in a literal, zap-me-off-the-road-with-a-lightning-bolt way. But, in a realization of Who He is.
For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit, In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.
I saw my sinful state before this God who I had completely enjoyed mocking. And yet denying…
As I sat in the parking lot, I saw the truth of what my mom and others had been telling me for years. I was without hope in the world.
I knew then I wanted to spend my life serving the Lord. I asked Him what to do. (I know this might sound crazy….) He told me to sing. I sang. Amazing Grace. Which I did not know the words to…but they came out anyway.
When my mom came out to the van, she opened the door and I started bubbling over with excitement.
“I just talked to God!” “I know I have sinned against Him. I think I’m saved now!”
“Oh, and He told me to sing.”
Another shock. Because, singer I never was! My grandma was a singer. She had a beautiful voice. But, I never once aspired to that. Not even on my radar.
My mom did not believe her ears. So, I sang for her. She stared at me for several long seconds, as this voice which I did not know existed, poured out of my lips.
Long story…but ever since that day, the Lord has opened doors on various worship teams, and other venues of singing, here and in the States. All opened by Him.
So, when I say that He saved me and put a song in my mouth, I really truly mean just that!
He did a “new thing” in me. And, He made me NEW!
There have been seasons, though…even here….where I have “lost my song”.
By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? -Psalm 137:1-4
Times where my grief and fear and anxiety and loneliness and impatience and discontentment were almost suffocatingly unbearable.
It has been 2 years here.
Two long years since I have hugged my dad. Two years of missing our home church family. Two years of old friends stopping by for coffee and muffins. Two years of adjusting to life in a Third World country, and rainforest/jungle climate. Power outages, water outages, scorpions emerging from banana bunches, on my *kitchen table!*, no less. Frogs in my dryer lint trap. Unexplained abscesses which grow flaming red with infection. Local markets which run short of needed items…then you just need to wait until when and if it comes back to stock. Rashes, bug bites, having fingernails removed with no anesthesia. Things are different here.
Two years of encouraging emails received at *exactly the right times!* from brothers and sisters in the States. Two years of knowing that we are being lifted in prayer. Two years of seeing the Lord’s provision. Letters received from loved ones across the seas.
Two years of new friends. Two years of learning new ways. Adding to the old. New foods, new spices.
New mercies. Every morning.
New memories. Just the other day I briefly joined the children at the bus stop(for a fidget check…we have *no tolerance* for goofing off near this often deadly road, where logging trucks, express busses and any other imaginable vehicle come blazing by..).
I could hear a voice shouting in the distance. I wondered who was yelling at us. Then I heard the familiar “clippity-clop”s of our Mennonite friends coming to the town with a wagon heavy laden with watermelons, to sell in the market. The horses had a brisk pace, breathing in the crisp morning air; much more so than they would on the return trip in the afternoon heat.
These kinds of things I hope that our children treasure in their memories. What is was like to grow up in Belize….
Having fresh pineapples, mangoes, mali apples and watermelons when they get home from a hot day at school.
Mali apples are a favorite springtime fruit.
Eliana graduated from preschool at Toledo Christian Academy. Preschool graduations are a big deal here. They really want the children to love learning and be encouraged to continue.
Eliana far left, dress with blue flowers.
The principal prayed for all of us.
Eliana with her teacher, Miss Tiana; and her class.
Each child did a special presentation of what they had learned. Eliana and her friend Marcus did some reading.
Cheyenne and Eliana share a little “post-graduate” snack! (chips and cheese….AKA nachos and cheese)
Afterwards, we were invited by some dear friends to come and celebrate with them (their daughter was in Eliana’s class).
Our friends went all out to decorate their beautiful home for the graduation celebration!
(someone wanted some of Josiah’s dinner…! DEEEEEELISH BBQ chicken, rice & beans, and tortillas…made by our sweet family in Christ. Josiah was willing to fight off the ducks to defend his yummy food!)
Seeing howler monkeys and green parrots in the trees behind our house. Everyday sights here.
see-saw’ ing by the Caribbean Sea…..
Their dad, faithful preacher of the Word of God…standing fiercely against the onslaught of the enemy.
Our beautiful daughter, Cheyenne…getting married NEXT WEEK (June 17th!) to Alexander! Then moving off to Canada.
We are thankful to the Lord for bringing them together.
I have sung many different songs in my walk with the Lord. Not just actual music songs, but praise and thanksgiving to my Lord and Savior for Who He Is and What He does!
Yes, I have lost my song sometimes. I have sung silently sometimes. Then there are those times when my song just explodes out of my very being.
A “new thing” and a “new song”. Both bring my heart to leap for joy!
The Gospel is going forth. We are grateful to the Lord! We are thankful for YOU!