If you received our latest newsletter, it sent you this way to “read more details about how we’re doing and where we are these days.” It’s a constant tension for those of us who live on support to write updates which are short enough that people will actually open & read them, but also say something worth reading, tell more than one layer of the story!
Alright, I will stick to shorter & sweeter for the email that hits your inbox, praying that everyone doesn’t walk away simply because they had to scroll more than once (heaven-forbid that scrolling ought to happen, although it is something we do in our sleep) and reserve my wordiness for this place of ours on the web. I don’t want to compete with other corners of online writers out there. I just want to be myself, expressing some of what is on my heart without the judgment of the holy email length police, aka, H.E.L.P! Freedom of speech-length, people. Filibusterers for Jesus, unite! #ifjesuswantedmetowriteshortemailsthenwhydidhecreateeternity
Ah, I feel better. Sometimes, semi-sarcastic is a good thing!
Ok, so … how are we really doing?
This past year in the U.S. has not been easy, although each month was certainly touched by many points of “Ah, God continues to love on us” hard, but good moments.
It has been hard because we were expecting to stay only 6 months, then return to Costa Rica for several years. By month four, Jordan and I both realized that we were in no shape to go back yet because we were miserable physically and overwhelmed emotionally. Apparently, we are not the only cross-cultural workers to wind up in this place of needing extra time to recover from a season of service.
It has been good because we are working with a mission organization which believes that getting to the field quickly is great, but getting there healthy and staying longer is better. They blessed us with requirements and space to take care of the medical issues, get the needed rest, etc. Two back procedures and a hernia surgery later, I am in MUCH less pain, am able to cook meals again without regretting it, and I even began hiking and swimming again this summer! Jordan’s diagnosis of sleep apnea after five horrible, sleepless months and resulting treatment has helped him so much. We both still feel that we’re not where we ought to be physically, but we are working on it. We have certainly reached a place where we can return to Costa Rica and not flatline when the next string of stressful moments hit us. We can breathe. Breathing is not overrated.
It has been good because we have had time and space to surrender our hearts to God’s healing touch, especially as we’ve had to do a fair amount of releasing and forgiving. It’s unreal how tempting it is to just deny that we are hurting, even for people whose history has taught us the value of leaning into the truth of the situation. We don’t see ourselves as victims, but we are working on sifting through experiences and emotions: filtering, evaluating and resolving as much as we can in front of God.
It has been hard because we have experienced a normal amount of attrition of financial supporters, but we have also received the message “Let us know when you’re back on the field and we’ll support you again, but while you’re stateside, we won’t be supporting you.” Deeeeeeep breath. While we do not hold it against anyone who has told us that, the reality is that it can communicate that when we are off the field, we are no longer doing God’s work, or that we no longer have financial needs. Ouch. Jordan didn’t go back to Comcast, earning his corporate salary the moment we set foot in Denver last year. Our kids and we still had/have the need for groceries, gas, health insurance, medical appointment copays, school supplies, debt from surgeries, ministry travel and oh yes, bigger shoes and clothes for growing kids. We have heard this story from other missionaries in the past, but this was our first home assignment so our newbie hearts had to process all that this past year.
It has been good because we have seen, over and over again, how God still provides through His people. Subject: God! HE is our Provider and He has provided through many who have continued to give faithfully, month after month. Moreover, He provided through Jordan’s family, with whom we lived for almost a year, through our mission and generous friends who loaned us cars and their homes when they were out of town. So, even though we sold our primary house in Denver, CO and are in a state of transition in CO right now, we are house sitting for some friends who are traveling. We don’t know where we will be living for the last few weeks of our support raising time here and in CA. At moments, it takes our breath away … the unknown.
Yet, on our toughest day this summer, regarding this feeling of not having a place of our own, the Lord led me to Psalm 61, because I had seen a meme earlier that day with verses 1 & 2:
“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.”
Then, I kept reading … and I couldn’t believe the imagery describing all the ways in which GOD, Himself, is our house! He is our refuge, our strong tower, our tent, our shelter. “Really, God?! On the day on which I actually got around to shedding tears about NOT having a house of our own? Truly, you know what my heart needs.”
“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!” Selah
In that moment, I was comforted tremendously by the reality that we, the Footes, are houseless, but not we are not homeless. Even though we do not currently own a house here, nor in Costa Rica, we have enjoyed telling each other that “We are houseless, but we’re not homeless!” We have never lacked a safe place to lay our head at night. Furthermore, even in the latest transitions, we have felt at home being together as a family, no matter where we are, following God in the next step He has for us. It is nerve-wracking, at times, not knowing where a particular item is … is it in storage in Costa Rica? Or in storage in Jordan’s parents’ basement? Or is it in the back of the loaner van from our mission? Or did we leave it at someone’s house along the way? But to feel “at home” wherever we are, when we are not yet settled in every earthly sense of the word … that is a gift only God can give and we are grateful to Him for it!
We don’t know right now where we will be staying in between our next trip and our CA trip to connect with supporters. We have a confidence that God has it, though. If you desire to pray with us about anything, please pray that we would work diligently, persistently and in faith, as God opens doors of provision. Remember, it’s been both hard and good!
Speaking of doors: we are amazed at how word is spreading of what God is doing through our BAM work and our coffee business, Café Feliz, in partnership with Santamaría Gourmet Coffee. Many businesses and ministries would cease to function if it’s main workers had their work time reduced as much as we have. However, the fact that God is laying partnership with us on the hearts of His people (some whom we’ve never heard of before – they are the ones who are calling us!) is so encouraging and affirming.
Our time in Costa Rica, to renew our residency (in July – that story is still going to be an upcoming blog post of its very own), showed us that our partnerships with Costa Rican missions leaders, church leaders and our coffee business team are truly sweet and that we are working together, towards the same vision of growing this coffee business so that Latino missionaries can enter and remain in areas of the world where the Gospel can be brought through a legitimate business visa. Every time we connect with our missional brothers & sisters in Costa Rica, we marvel at how well-suited we are to work side by side. This is what brings us the most joy and keeps us laboring to get there by October!
Our family is growing up together and we are, even in the chaos of transition during a season of recovery, having fun with each other. How we wish you could hear the conversations we are having with our kids during homeschool, in the car, over everyday tasks and on planes which take us to places where they have never been before. We traveled quite a bit this summer, connecting with friends, family and churches in other states, and it warms our hearts to see Megan and Micah becoming such seasoned travelers. They are true Third-Culture Kids, wrestling with how to respond to homeless people begging for food on the side of the road, not just in Costa Rica, but here in our affluent, middle-class community in Colorado. They are processing what it means to have Trump and Clinton running for President, as much as their 12 and 9 year old minds can. They made such sweet connections with their cousins in Illinois and Wisconsin this summer – most of whom they had never met before. They are learning what it means to have a family all around the world, even while not having a permanent house to call “home” anymore.
Sure, we have our moments of chaos, sibling bicker-paloozas and intense discipleship (aka discipline) … but as we look at these two souls whom God gave us to parent, we stand amazed at how kind God has been to us. They know how to ask for forgiveness. They say “I love you” every day. They get excited about pizza and Friday night family movie night. They make their cozy nest in the space provided for them and they sleep in peace every night. They ask questions that are insightful and silly. Thank you, God, for the gifts of Megan & Micah.
The final thought I want to leave with you for this more detailed, less edited update, is that Jordan is an incredible man of God. No matter whether it’s a hard, but good, or just plain hard day, I cannot believe that I get to work my dream job with my best friend and that he tells me the same thing. Even with all the difficulties we could list (and shockingly, we’ve racked up a few in the past 3 years), we are still so grateful to God for how He has guided us every step of the way. Never once has He ever left us to walk alone.
If you’ve read this entire blog post, then you deserve a prize! Rumor has it that we have some delicious Costa Rican coffee that might find its way into your house sometime. Perhaps we can have a coffee date with you on your end of the email, Facebook or Skype line … and us on our laptop wherever we happen to be houseless today. God is good! Thanks for journeying with us.