This blog has been brewing in the back of my mind for the last couple months now... although I've been thankful for the time to think and pray about it before I actually had to sit down and write it. I have decided that I dislike change. I am a creature of routine and of habit. And so I have resisted writing this blog, although I knew the day was coming when I would have to, because it made it seem so real and permanent.
A couple months ago Josh and I made one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make. We made the decision to leave Cochabamba and the work here at the end of our five year commitment in December and move to a different calling and mission in Quito, Ecuador. A variety of factors influenced our decision, but the bottom line is that, after a lot of prayer and deliberation and consultation and even tears, we feel God's strong leading away from this place and into a new ministry.
Josh will be moving into a role of working with national teams that form at the EQUEB School of Biblical Studies and their US sponsoring churches as they go out to establish new church plants across the country of Ecuador and into other parts of Latin America. We will also be working directly with a fairly new church plant right outside of Quito on a regular basis. Josh is excited about the possibilities of this new work and looking forward to streamlining his doctoral studies to fit this work as well. We are thankful as well that this will be moving us closer to Josh's family as both his parents and his sister's family is working in Ecuador. And it will give us the opportunity to maintain contact here, as we will be making a yearly visit to Bolivia to visit some of the church plants here.
It is amazing how invested you can become in a place, in a people, in a ministry in 5 short and long years. I remember saying in one of my previous blogs that it feels we have lived a lifetime here. So true... a lifetime of joys and struggles, birth and death, work and play. We are so thankful that God saw fit to call us here, to teach us and mold us and use us in spite of ourselves. We have had the privilege of working with some great teammates, true servants of God, and although we have had our differences, we are thankful that we are leaving behind such quality people to continue working in his kingdom here. We have been blessed to see God transform the lives of many brothers and sisters... to see a church start from square one and grow to a vibrant body of believers seeking his will. It has been the hardest decision in our life to leave because we feel so connected to the work and the people. But God works in mysterious ways, and in causing us to make this decision, He has taught us again that this work is not about us... it is about Him... we are merely tools in His hand to be used as He sees fit. And although part of us wishes we could stay here and see the milestones the church has yet to accomplish, the other part knows we would rather be in the center of God's will for our lives. He is the One who will continue this work... who will raise up this people to be His own... He is the One who has done it from the beginning. He has taught us again about trust in his Lordship, about my fallacy to depend on earthly things, and about turning everything over into His control.
This last week has been an emotional one, as we have shared with the church our plans to move. And yet we are thankful for their spiritual vision. They say they will be sad to see us go, but confident that God will continue to work here as well as in our lives. We have the same confidence as well. We have felt affirmed on many levels in our decision, but the reality of making it happen the last week has been hard. The reality of informing people we love of our plans to leave, the reality of thinking about packing and moving... of leaving our home, the only home and life the girls have ever really known. I have shed a lot of tears in the last couple months, and I'm sure I have bucket loads more to cry.
As we think about our last few months in this place, I find myself clinging to a straw of wisdom that has stayed with me since my highschool days... a senior seminar on reentry with TCK guru Dave Polluck. He talked about building your RAFT as you get ready to leave. RAFT consisting of.... Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, and Thinking ahead. These next few months we would appreciate your prayers as we attempt to make this transition in as healthy and gracious a way as possible. We would appreciate your prayers for the church and the team as they face many transitions as well, that they would stay focused and grounded in Christ and continue the good work. We would appreciate your prayers for our family as we uproot ourselves and make this daunting international move and as we seek financial support for this new calling in Ecuador. And we thank you for your consistent prayers and support of our family over the last 5 years. We couldn't have been here doing what we are doing without your love and prayers. And we pray that you would continue both as we transition into this new calling.
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13
But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.... “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13