Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One Way Ticket Life

For years my husband and I and our two children lived the round trip ticket life. Traveling for short stays either visiting family, vacations and a few over seas short trips. All that changed when we committed to become missionaries with New Tribes Mission in Bolivia, South America and take on the ministry of being dorm parents to high school boys. With excited hearts we bought our first one way ticket which brought about a ton of new experiences. Just the packing alone took on a whole new dimension as we had to plan for living not visiting for three to four years in this third world country. Facing the emotions of knowing we were not going to see our home country, family and friends for such a long time seems to overwhelm us at times. There was the concern of how our daughter Tara 14 and Jared 10 year old son would adjust to this drastic move. All too soon we were packed and saying our last good by's at the airport and started on our journey.

Within a few days of being in Bolivia it was clear how much we had taken for granted living in the good old USA. Things like electricity around the clock, Wal-marts on every corner, not having to cook anything by scratch and my list could go on and on. But you do learn to live according to what is available.

Our son jumped right into the culture of the school base but our daughter was depressed from being so homesick and that on top of caring for 16 high school guys was stretching us more then we had ever been stretched. That one way ticket commitment was weighing very heavy on us as we watched our daughter struggle in tears most nights. We had been warned that the move would be hardest on her. As we prayed God begin to slowly bring our daughter out of her homesickness and three years later when she graduated she didn't want to leave Bolivia. Another chance to trust Him as we bought those one way tickets again to the states not knowing how long it would take her to adjust. I remember so clearly as we packed up for the first furlough packing one tote full of things we would want sent to us if for some reason we oculd not return. Another one of those things one usually doesn't do when taking a short trip somewhere on a round trip ticket. Since we came to Bolivia with 19 bags I could see how our value of things had changed drastically.

All too soon furlough was over and once again we bought, you guessed it, one way tickets. These tickets were harder to buy because we were leaving our daughter in the states to continue her educations. I really thought I was going to faint from just pure heartbreak as we walked away from her and boarded that plane. Once again God brought comfort to our hearts that He would take care of her and meet her needs. I remember wishing He would just dry my tears so I could see clearly to at least eat the meal they served us on the plane a few hours later.

Three more years passed quickly as we minister and then it was time for our son Jared to graduate. Another step of faith as we began the process of taking him home on a one way ticket. I tried hard not to think ahead to when we would return to Bolivia leaving both our children behind. While home God changed the direction of our life as we felt impressed to step out of the mission and help our struggling home church. So I really thought that was the end of that one way tickey way of living. We could settle in and enjoy the fruits of stateside living and being close to our family. All that wisdom we had gained from flexing and trusting would help us minister to others.

Well I guess God thought we had more to learn for after a few years He called us to serve over seas again but this time in Madang, Papua New Guinea. Now I really questioned the Lord's wisdom on this one for we were 58 years old and this country was less developed then Bolivia and the weather was hot, humid and malaria infested, not good for us older people. I have to admit I have been a little mad at God as I've sweated and fought the heat rashes and taken care of my husband as he struggled with malaria. In my heart I felt like God asked too much this time at our age. That excitement I remember feeling as we started our missionary journey to Bolivia just was not here this time. How could I serve Him with such a heavy heart. But as I reflected back to Bolivia when we sit with our crying depressed daughter and told her that it was OK for her to be mad at God for up rooting her, He was big enough to handle her anger. And that homesickness was not a sin, that He was homesick for heaven those 33 years He walked this earth. Like her I have slowly came out of my anger and culture shock and became so thankful for the ministry we have now. I would still prefer living in a cooler climate with mountains surrounding us instead of right on the ocean and in a more developed country but this "one way ticket" way of living has deepen our trust in God.

Recently our son, now 25 signed off his email to us, "Jared your son, protected by the Son". I wrote him back and said, yeah Jared you got it dear son. That's the truth that gave us courage to buy that first one way ticket and the same truth has us looking forward to traveling on that paid for one way ticket to our heavenly home some day.