The blessing of receiving pt. 2

When we moved back to the States 3 years ago, we had some clothes, our instruments, and other random things (like a 70 lb bag full of beads and accessories for our “Colombia to the World” project… lol!).

We had to sell everything that didn’t fit into 8 suitcases.

We arrived to my parent’s house in Sunbury with nothing… no jobs, no cars, no insurance, no certificates that were valid in Ohio to get professional jobs… nothing.

Slowly as the months passed, the Lord opened up doors for everything we needed.  We were able to start working, making friends, and finally got to the point where we could make a budget.

As we were praying about where we could live, we knew 3 things: 1) we needed a house- Leo’s dreams for a recording studio wouldn’t be able to happen in an apartment setting.  2) we needed 3 bedrooms- we have people over all the time, and having space for them to sleep was a priority. 3) we could only afford 1,000/month, utilities included.

It was like we spoke those things into existence, and said “Ok God… GO!”.

People thought we were crazy.

As we waited for the right place to show up, I would buy simple things with our little bit of surplus each month.  One month it was a set of towels on sale.  The next month, it was a comforter set that was on sale.  I stocked these little things up, knowing that we would eventually be able to move out of my parent’s basement.

One day, as I was driving my usual route around the city for work, I had the Zillow app open.  Most of the houses in this particular area were renting for $1300, but one stuck out at $895. I immediately contacted the owner, and he agreed to meet with us the following day.

We had seen other houses, and upon entering the owners would kind of look Leo up and down, ask him a few questions and just hurry us through the house.  Leo never felt peace about those places…

However, when we walked through the door of this particular house, the owner was playing Salsa music, and greeted us in Spanish.  Turns out, he had lived in Puerto Rico for 5 years as a teacher… loved Spanish and the Latino culture!  We walked through the house and fell in love with it!  As we stood in the kitchen and continued conversation, the owner asked us if we were serious about living in this place.  We said YES… but we had 2 issues…

This was just mid-February, and we wouldn’t be able to move in until April. Also, we only felt comfortable signing a 6-month lease because we still weren’t confident that Leo’s immigration status would get renewed.

He said yes to both conditions… and then went on to say,
“So, would you mind if I leave some furniture here for you?  Where I’m going, I don’t need all of it. I will probably take all the living room and master bedroom furniture at least, but it would be great to be able to leave the guest rooms furnished.”

Leo and I looked at each other in disbelief, and said “of course!  Whatever you leave in the house is what we don’t have!”.

So, April 1st rolled around (Easter Sunday that year), and my family all piled their cars up and drove us to our new house.

As we walked in, the owner had a simple trash bag in his hand and said “I just need to pick up a few things”.  I looked in disbelief at the fully-furnished house and said “Um, are you sure? It looks like you have a lot to take!”.

“No, as it turns out, I only needed the coffee table and some lamps”.  He said.

I couldn’t believe it!  The only furniture that we had brought with us was a coffee table and lamps!

My mom happily brought in our comforter set and said “I’ll go make your bed, then!”.  (we were honestly thinking that we’d be sleeping in the guest room on a futon).

Each and every person who has come through our doors has heard this God story.  We know that we have been entrusted with a house that only the Lord could’ve given, and in response, we share it with anyone and everyone.

We have received a beautiful gift… one that will be OURS on paper later this week! But at the end of the day this is God’s house, and it will always be open to anyone who needs a place to stay, a warm meal, and who wants to hear a lot of crazy stories!

We give because we have received.

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Reflection

My first year living in Colombia, I had to learn how NOT to remember things by seasons. I never realized how important seasons had been to my midwestern mind, heart and body; but I quickly found myself trying to break the school year into Fall and Spring Semesters, and I was met with quizzical looks from my Colombian friends.

I remember walking home with Beth one day, talking about how much I missed Fall. She looked at me, and said that she loved the 65-80 degree weather year-round. I didn’t think I’d ever get to that point. I’m not from California. I’m from Ohio. Seasons are in my blood.

I remember as the first “fall” was passing in the US. I was glued to Facebook, taking in everyone’s comments about the colder weather, grieving that I couldn’t experience it for myself. I tried to explain the phenomena of the changing smells, colors, foods and scenery to Leo; he smiled but didn’t really understand.

And, as much as I never thought I’d get used to the seasons NOT changing, I DID get used to it. I liked the simplicity of not needing a change of wardrobe for each season. I liked the monotony of the sun rising and setting within the same 30-minute window each day. There were always flowers blooming, always fresh fruits and veggies, and I could walk outside every day. Even “rainy season” was predictable: for the most part, if it was sunny in the morning, you’d get a downpour sometime in the afternoon/evening, and if it was rainy in the morning, vice versa. I got used to life without seasons.

But along with gaining the contentment in that, I think I lost the idea that seasons DO change. Each day kinda rolled into the next with only school breaks or service trips to count time with, and I think I forgot that the season would someday come to an end. I forgot to take in each day for what it was. The monotony of the familiar lulled me into forgetting that time passes quickly, opportunities might never come again, and things really were changing whether the weather marked it or not.

Coming back to the US was a hard transition in many ways, and I remember getting angry that the seasons were changing so quickly. It seemed like just as we’d finally have what we needed for one season, we’d need something for the next one and be behind again. I felt so out of place. Again, I was met with quizzical looks. I’d lived in the land of seasons for 28 years of my life… but the during the 5 seasons of living without them I’d so adopted a new way of living that I couldn’t remember how to go back.

However, I did eventually adjust. I had to remind my husband who wanted to give away all of his winter clothes halfway through summer (he looked at me and said… I haven’t used that in MONTHS), that winter would be back, and we were finally prepared.

Somewhere around December last year, shortly before Leo’s family came to visit us for Christmas, it hit me. There are certain things we can count on:

The sun will rise tomorrow to a brand new day.

Seasons will change.

We aren’t guaranteed to see any of it.

It allowed me to sink into the Truth that each day, conversation, opportunity, experience has its purpose, and most likely will never be repeated.

I am learning to savor everything, knowing that it might never happen again.

I am trying not to take anything for granted, because
this season, too, will change.

Ending a season of silence

Those of you who have come along with me on journeys over the  years know that I love to tell stories.  I love to share everything from the depths to shallow hilarities.

However, I’ve been silent for a while now.

We’ve been in the States for a little over 2 years, and I haven’t written much.  There has been a deep sadness that words on black and white can’t really explain, or shouldn’t be written and put “out there”.  Those words are only for a select few in my life, and they have had their ears full.  However, outside of the brokenness, the silence has been caused by my world shrinking; and the large majority of those with whom I spend my time aren’t people who like to be written about.  Then, there are my jobs with autistic kids and at the church where I can’t really write much because of confidentiality.

At the root of it, though…

It is a lot easier to communicate with my friends being back in the States. I talk with dear people almost every morning on my drive to one job or another, and I spend time with people in the evenings.  So, there isn’t this deep need to be heard, to speak out, to share about differences… because my life isn’t really different from the “normal US life” anymore.

I go shopping at Old Navy.

I buy my groceries at Costco and at the International grocery store down the street.

I drive myself to work on a busy highway everyday.

We have a puppy.

We have a washer, dryer, dishwasher, lawnmower, clothes for every season, and a window air-conditioner (let alone an endless supply of dill pickles and cheddar cheese!).

Leo and I both have “real jobs” with health insurance.

We have great neighbors that we’ve come to love and share meals together.

We have a garden (that our puppy ate most of the veggies out of this year… lol!).

But, in the middle of it all, there has been a slow process of handing over this season to the Lord… for however long it takes. It means handing over each day, each conversation, each moment.  I’ve gone from being angry that we’re here, to realizing that TODAY is the only “today” I’ll get.  I might never have another opportunity for a conversation, or to give (or receive) an encouraging word.  Life goes by so quickly, especially here in the US.  People move so much and are involved in so many different things, that I’ve learned to just take advantage of opportunities to share with people while I have them close.

I’ve learned how easy it is to just send a text to someone when you’re thinking about them.

That not a lot of people really mean “great” when you ask how they’re doing… and it’s not until you ask “how are you REALLY doing” and take time to listen that you learn the truth.

It is a really special thing to just invite someone over to your house for dinner, no matter what the house looks like, and no matter what you cook.  I’ve been blessed to have some great conversations over lentils and rice.

All that to say…

I think there are some moments that are worth writing about now.

Community amidst the chaos

If the last 5 weeks since we decided to move to the US have been chaotic, then these past 8 days have been a complete whirlwind.

2 Saturdays ago, I went to Ciudad Bolivar for the very last time, bringing my girls back up North with me for our very last sleep-over.  We had a blast, as usual, and it was a very bitter-sweet time.  I was faced with the reality that these beautiful girls that I’ve known since they were 9-13, are now beautiful teenage girls living in a world where teen pregnancy and boyfriends that are 10+ years older than them is a constant reality…. whether I like it or not.  Instead of our usual running around and playing games, they were glued to cell-phones and opted for more one-on-one time with each of their “profe’s”.  Conversations about dreams, goals, how to get out of Ciudad Bolivar and whether it was really o.k. to allow men of 25-28 years old call them and give them gifts abounded.

(They are not MY girls… they are the Lords.  He is with them, as He always has been.  Please, Lord, let them continue to hunger and thirst for you.)

We had a laid-back Sunday morning, as the girls all took turns taking nice, hot showers and eating breakfast.  The living room was filled with all our extra mattresses, and there was plenty of popcorn and kernels from the night before all over the place!  We cleaned the best we could before trying to head out the door.

As soon as the door opened for us to leave, the phone rang and it was our land-lord.  He was asking if we would be at the apartment later on, because he wanted to show it to someone who was interested in buying it.  At this very moment, around 20 different questions entered my mind: Can I tell him to wait until we get the place cleaned up a little bit?  Is the person buying it going to keep the contract with ECA?  What the heck are we going to do?  etc….

Leo stayed behind to clean the apartment, and I set off with the girls for church.  It was youth Sunday, and I really didn’t want them to miss it.

I wasn’t disappointed. The youth were in charge of EVERYTHING, including being ushers, leading worship, dancing and preaching.  Worship was energy-filled and even as we walked in the building, the atmosphere was different.  My girls observed at first, and then later participated; and as I looked down the row at them singing their hearts out to Jesus, my heart was full.  We pulled into a little circle and as their teachers, we took turns praying for them… for their hearts to continue to fall more and more in love with Jesus.   We were all in tears, and I know that one of my girls who has had the most resistant and rebellious heart truly gave her brokenness, dreams, and life to Jesus that morning.

I knew I made the right decision to not wear make-up that morning!

Upon getting to the apartment, Leo told me that the land-lord did indeed stop by with someone to look at the apartment, and that they were critiquing every single carpet stain.  I found out later that the contracts here can only be broken with 3 month anticipation or else the land-lord has to pay a fine.  The only way out of it is if they prove that the apartment isn’t being taken care of the way they would like it to be, and then they have every right to break the contract.  Good times.

So, at school on Monday, I was processing with the elementary principal, who happens to be a very dear friend, about the idea of just selling everything.  The idea of our impending fresh start in the States, only to come back to Colombia and start fresh down here again in a few years didn’t really excite me.  She shared with me her own similar story of when her family had to move to Mexico for a few years so her husband could further his studies, and how the Lord worked things out to the very last detail on both ends for her family of 5.  She encouraged me to let it all go.

So, Tuesday and Wednesday we started packing up some things and getting ready for our huge sale.  Thursday morning, Vicky McCollum came by and helped bring order and display to the crazy piles that I had started, and then brought lunch.  Beth let her maid come to our place to clean… and clean she did!  She spent all morning just deep-cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, while I was emptying out everything and putting it in the living room to be sold… dishes, baking goods, appliances, etc.  Leo told the guards, gardeners and cleaning ladies in our apartment complex to stop by to look, and it began.

Beth stopped by later on that afternoon to see how everything was going, and she just stood there, in shock and disbelief.  It would take a miracle for this to happen in 5 days.

Praise the Lord that He is the God of the impossible.

We sold everything that mattered, and still got to say good-bye to people, and serve for one last time here together.  These last 5 days have been the most emotionally, physically, and mentally draining days of my life so far, but the Lord was so faithful to put people in our path to encourage us, lift us up, and even feed us! 🙂

Yesterday afternoon, 3 of the cleaning ladies from ECA stopped by to check out what we had left… it wasn’t much, but they were happy.  Our conversation went like this:

“Profe, how much for this?” holding up a pillowcase.

“Please, just take it… take anything and everything you want.”

“No, profe… how much?”

“Seriously, just take it.”

“Profe, we want to help you, too.  Please let us pay you something so we can help you.”

“O.k.  Each item is 500 pesos.” (the equivalent of .25)

“Thank you, profe!”

They proceeded to fill up bags of anything and everything, and between them they bought the equivalent of $8.50, but then took so much of our “free stuff”, that they just gave me back the rest of the $1.50 in change that I’d just given them.

We are so grateful that the Lord used this apartment to bless people one last time, even in the midst of the craziness.

We now have money to start over with in the States.

And, stuff is just stuff.

We love our ECA and church communities, and yesterday was a beautiful picture of how we really take care of each other and hold each other up.

At 4:00 pm, we still had a TON to do… finish packing, weigh the suitcases and re-arrange them, tear down Leo’s studio, clean, throw stuff away, etc.  Between 4:15-5:15, an army of 10 people came by to help.  They weren’t emotionally attached to our stuff, so they had no problem throwing things away.  Where Leo and I were exhausted and overwhelmed, they came alongside us and finished the job.  They worked until 7:30 and left us with nothing more than our packed bags and air mattress, and a few things that others were going to pick up either later that night, or today after we leave.

There is no way that would have happened without them.

Watching all of them work yesterday reminded me of the story in Exodus 17 where the Israelites were fighting against the Amalekites.

“8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

These last few days, with everything from selling our blankets on Saturday and having people from our church loan us theirs so we could sleep well, to Beth loaning us her air mattress on Monday night when we sold our last mattress at 10pm and didn’t know where we would sleep, to Lauren packing our socks and underwear that I’d kept out so that the students didn’t have to touch them, to the rest of the army who came and did things that we would NEVER had been able to do on our own, to the McCollums who let me crash their place at random times with random requests, to new parents at ECA today who shared with me similar stories of having to leave a place they love only to start all over again in a new country…

We are so grateful to all of you.

You held our arms up when we were weak so that the task before us could be accomplished.

A dear friend once said that God’s Word and presence in our lives should be enough for us.  He is totally enough.  But, the fact that He allows us to share life with others is such a gift, and we should always be grateful.

Our time with you, no matter how short, has been a gift – and we will always be grateful.

We love you.

Up-rooted

I took a walk in our neighborhood park tonight.  It was a typical misty evening here, and the occasional drops that fell on my hair matched the drops falling from my eyes.

If someone were to tell me 5 years ago as I was planning on coming here that it would hurt this much to leave, I probably wouldn’t have believed them.  Even in my first month, it felt odd to sleep in the same bed for a month straight.  I’d been a vagabond for so long that I didn’t know what it was to have a routine… seeing the same people everyday… having to actually change my clothes more than 2x in a week… letting people in to those deep places of my soul that hadn’t known roots not easily pulled up by the next gig or town waiting for my arrival.  I was used to leaving.

As I walked around this evening, I watched scenes from the last 4 1/2 years.

I saw my summer with Leo’s teenage cousin… teaching him how to throw a softball for the first time. It took him a few days, but he finally stopped throwing like a girl. 🙂

I saw the sleepovers I’ve had with my kids from the south… the mudsliding and laughter.  The frightful smiles as I pushed them higher on the swings than they’d ever gone before. The fear on their eyes as we passed the security guards on our way up to the apartment, sopping wet with grass hanging from our clothes.  Their hidden laughter as I joked with the guards about how incredible the mud puddles were.

I saw the deep conversations that happened with dear friends and students on the various benches… conversations that defined our walks with the Lord.  Conversations that made us laugh so hard we almost peed our pants (or did, maybe just a little).

I walked the cement path winding through the park that my students ran while ringing unsuspecting neighbor’s doorbells.

I walked on the grass that I have so often laid down on watching the clouds pass… only to realize each time that the neighbor’s dogs often “walked on” the same grass.  Gross.

The sleep-overs, volleyball games, impromptu dance parties with music from cell-phones…

I realized that I let myself put down roots here, in this park… in this neighborhood… in this city… in this country.

“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.” Eph. 3:17

In a way, I’ve done this before.  I’ve left a place I love… people I love… a season that I dearly loved.  This time it’s different simply because it’s not quite how I imagined.  Each time previous, there was Someone gently leading me through a season of good-byes, a season of “it’s time to go”.  This feels much more violent.  Even when I got malaria, it was basically just leaving a dream behind… a list of “could-have-beens”… not tearing up the roots of love that had planted themselves so snug in my heart.

The last 4 1/2 years in this place have been some of the most challenging, growing times I’ve faced thus far.  ECA, while it was truly my dream “job”, was filled with trials and disappointments… sometimes on a daily basis.  I did many things well after often failing miserably (except grades, writing curriculum and lesson plans… for my “bosses” who are reading this… I know I continued to fail at those things).  I loved deeply and gave much of myself for the cause of Christ, so that people would truly know His love for them.  I buried wanderlust for the call of discipleship and relationship.  I saw needs that God had fitted me perfectly for (with daily chiseling, of course), and had many of those “this is what I was born for” moments… from finally conquering the hardened heart of an abused, crying child with the love of Christ, to writing Christmas musicals that spoke to the heart of our unique situation here, to leading worship for different groups of people, to spending time with incredible teenagers in the Amazon.  There are so many moments that I am grateful to have had the honor of living!

I am an all-or-nothing kind of person, and looking back I can say that I gave all of myself (for better or worse) to the people that I was called to serve, and I wish I was given more time to give even more.

I have 3 more weeks here, and many things on my “to do” list before I leave.  Hopefully, there will be at least one more sleep-over and a few more bench conversations.

But, tonight, it was just me and the Lord.  He was reminding me of His faithfulness through the other seasons of my life; how I let Him lead, and how He led me here to find much more than friends… but my family.  And, He reminded me to continue to trust Him through the pain.

This world is not my home, but yet He let me find a beautiful resting place for a while.

I know I always come back to the following verses… they have become my solid footing through different seasons now.

Jeremiah 29: 4-5,7,10-11

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”… side-note: for some reason, for me, going back to the States now always seems like “exile”.  But, God keeps sending me back.

“Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce…”

Then, a long bit about making babies and grandbabies.

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”

Then, a part about not listening to false prophets who probably tell them that it’s going to be over quickly.

“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fufill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

So, our command for this next season is to settle in, pray, wait.

I don’t know what kinds of roots are waiting for us in the States.  I DO know that the best plants grow in soil that is up-rooted, sometimes violently, in preparation for what is coming.

The deepest roots however, the ones that are truly planted in the soil of God’s marvelous love, keep growing deeper, no matter what is re-planted around it.

He goes before us…

Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This verse was told by Moses to Joshua and the Isrealites just as they were crossing the Jordan river into the promised land.  They had been wandering in the desert for 40 years because of their doubt the first time around; and finally the Lord was giving them what He had promised… and what they had been desiring.

I think it’s interesting that even though the Lord had been guiding them to this point for so long, they were still afraid.  Moses had to say these exact three phrases two times in his speech:  “The Lord Himself goes before you”, “He will never leave you or forsake you”, and “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”. They knew that this final step was God’s plan for them, yet they were still afraid.  I can relate!

I love teaching middle-schoolers!  They’re hilarious, random, able to understand humor, and about as ADD as I am at times.  We have a blast!  But, when I’m teaching them, I know that I need to repeat the main points (usually more than once… ha!).  Everyday, as I’m teaching, I have them repeat the main points after me, sometimes in a loud voice, so I know that it’s sinking in.  Even in our worship songs, I like having songs that repeat main points.  It allows the truth to really sink in… to our bones.  “How He loves”  and “No sweeter name” were some of the favorite worship songs this year in middle school for that reason… we allowed those truths to envelop us.

As I was sitting, thinking about Moses’ speech this morning, I couldn’t help but think how I would encourage a multitude of ECA elementary and middle-schoolers, the kids in the different ministries around Bogota, the kids in the Jungle… the people I was called to minister to the last 5 years.  I would definitely repeat those 3 main phrases, and have them say it out-loud with me. I would have them visualize what those specific phrases mean to them. There would probably be hand motions involved.

And then, I thought about myself and how I need to be reminded of those very important phrases these next few weeks… today… this minute. I probably don’t need hand motions, though. 🙂

Praise God that He’s promised to go before us (believing in an omni-present God, we know that He is already there, working things out in advance for us).

Praise God that He will never leave us or forsake us!

Praise God that because of His presence in our lives, we don’t have to have fear or be discouraged.  Perfect love casts out all fear, and He is the joy and lifter of our heads!

One of my favorite quotes that I often give to people who are in transition is:

The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it His presence and His promise. — Brennan Manning

There are so many things to be grateful for in this process:

That Leo is with our dear friends, Jonny and Suzie Pineda, another bi-cultural ministry couple (now a family!), who did what we’re about to do 3 years ago.  Leo is soaking up all the time with them… asking them the hard questions about leaving behind family, friends and ministry, and what it’s like to start all over again, trusting God to lead him as the head of our family.  Hard questions.

That there are wonderful women here that have spent hours on the phone with me through my tears encouraging me, kicking my butt, praying for me, and offering to help, etc.

That I got an email today from our mission pastor’s wife (also our small-group leader) from Vineyard Columbus informing me that because of the great need for immigration counseling within our church body (there are over 100 nations represented!  We love our church!), she is sending our case to someone we can talk to when we get to the States!  This is a huge relief to both of us!

That ECA is going to be able to rent our apartment to other missionaries, so we don’t have to pack up everything.

That Leo’s dad is coming over on Friday and Saturday to help fix random things around the apartment that we haven’t had time to fix.

That God cares about us so much that He would make it absolutely clear which way we should go!  We’d been praying all year that He would give us direction; and while we didn’t ever imagine He would answer us in this way, He did.  He heard our prayers and answered them!

There are so many things to be thankful for!

You can continue to pray for these specific things:

Good-byes (especially Leo’s family… it hit them pretty hard!)

My focus in sorting and packing (I’m really having a hard time with this… I need help!)

That God would continue to speak to Leo while he’s in the States with our friends

That if God wants the outreach, missions and worship ministries at ECA to continue, that He would put it on people’s hearts to step up to the task.

That God would rise up another worship leader at our church to replace Leo.

That God would rise up someone to continue working with Leo’s indian group.

That we (I) would stop worrying about all of the above.  Ha!

Thank you all so much for your encouragement and prayers for us!

US bound

Sunday, as Leo was going through immigration, he got a very stern talking-to by the immigration officer about the amount of times he’s gone in and out of the US on his resident visa.  We knew this would happen eventually, but we didn’t realize the gravity of it until the immigration officer explained that Leo only has a “conditional” resident visa, not a permanent one; and that when he has to get it renewed in December, Immigration will take a look at his activities to see whether he should be granted a permanent resident visa.  The officer was blunt in saying “I don’t think they’ll renew it if you don’t actually LIVE here.”

Needless to say, Leo was pretty shaken up, and called me right away.  He also wrote to a friend of ours who is an immigration lawyer in Florida to ask for some advice.  Our friend confirmed what the immigration officer said.  We need to live in the States, asap.

It’s not even been 36 hours since we’ve been praying and getting counsel from dear friends and family, and we feel at peace that the Lord has directed this sudden move.  A year ago, our plan was to come to the States this summer so that Leo could go to grad school.  Things kept changing, and it got harder for us to decide when we were going to head to the States.  We’re in deep in many different ministries and wanted 1 more year to transition out well.  But, it seems like whether or not Leo is in grad school this Fall, the Lord wants us in the States.

We have a little bit of an idea of what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to “transition”.  The plan is that Leo is going to come back down to Colombia on July 13th to help finish packing and saying goodbye to our church, friends and family.  Right now, we’re looking at him going back on July 20th to follow-up on job applications we’ll be turning in this week.  I am going to stay a little longer to help with orientation and setting up things for whomever is going to replace me at ECA, and say goodbye to the students and teachers.  I hope to be back in the States on August 8th.

For the time-being, we’re going to live with my parents.  We have a HUGE basement apartment, and they have a car we can borrow.  The idea is that we’ll hopefully either rent or buy something in the Columbus area by September to prove that we’re sticking around a little bit.  We are both going to be looking for jobs as well.  Leo is looking for teaching Spanish or Music lessons in nearby community colleges or Universities.  I’m probably going to get a part-time job at the local Christian bookstore.  We’ll see.  I’m still not completely healthy, so I shouldn’t do more than part-time so I can continue to rest and hopefully get better.

Leo will apply for his visa renewal, and they could deny it.  If they deny it, we’ll be back down in Colombia and have to start the resident process all over again. We’re hoping that by taking these drastic measures in moving to the US, they won’t deny it.   If they renew it, we will need to be in the States for a solid year, without leaving.

As you can probably imagine, this is not going to be easy.  We have 3 weeks to pack-up and move, and a lot of decisions need to be made.

You can join us in praying for the following:

1) That we make the most of the remaining 9 days until Leo comes back down.  That I can be focused and do everything possible to pack and organize.

2) That God gives peace to all the people we are leaving behind: our dear friends, the worship team and our church, the indians Leo has been heavily investing in, ECA, Leo’s family, and the ministries that I have been involved in (especially my ECA students).

3) That if God wants the ministries we’ve been running to continue, that He will provide the people to step in.

4) Wisdom with what to pack and what to leave behind

5) Provision when we get to the States.  We know for sure that we will need a car, and that Leo will need a job that provides insurance.  Also, pray for our housing situation.

Right now, our plan is to live in the states until Leo can get his citizenship… anywhere from 1 1/2-3 years.  After that goal is met, we’ll re-evaluate where the Lord would have us.  Obviously, we’re hoping that He will bring us back to Colombia; but, especially after something like this, we realize that we have no idea what the Lord has for us, and our only prayer is that He would continue to be the lamp to our feet and light to our path… revealing just the very next step we should take.

There are so many things we have been looking forward to about our “eventual” time in the States… our church, the community of friends we have through our church, possibly going to seminary, learning how to minister together in the States, being close to my family for a while, living out the 4 seasons… the list goes on and on.  We’re so grateful that we have these things to be excited about!

So, please join us in praying for this next adventure.

Colombia to the US!  Ha!