Marie: I turned 41 and 42 during this home assignment – that was not something I expected (celebrating two birthdays stateside, when the plan was to be back in Costa Rica before either birthday!), but God has clearly kept us here for His sovereign reasons. There have been many, many changes at our sending church and some changes for us within our mission agency. Some of it has left us feeling unsettled at times, but the most important thing has NOT changed: our calling to serve in Costa Rica, to establish a sustainable coffee business which will be used by Costa Rican ministry workers who are already heading into difficult-to-enter-parts of the unreached world. No matter how the snow-globe tumbles, God has kept us steady and unshaken in our passion to return to Costa Rica when we’re fully funded and have our medical bills paid off. God has not closed that door for us and, if anything, He’s crystallizing the place and role He has for us there.
We’ve been asked questions on different occasions about what we do with our business and what we do with our ministry, as though the two are separate arms of our service. It’s been difficult to see my husband wrestle with how to explain that the whole reason we said “Yes” to this work is because the two are really one! Our coffee business IS our ministry and it allows us to enter into discipleship relationships which we would never have, if it weren’t for that business endeavor. Also, the very reason for building the business is so that the ministry of our Costa Rican counterparts can be moved to the ends of the earth, as they take their own coffee business with them when they go. There are many things we still need to figure out and there are many moving parts. However, we are clear on the vision and general trajectory God has laid before us at this time. This is a gift from Him!
Every time our team of Costa Rican ministry and business partners in Costa Rica ask us when we’re coming back, I want to say, “Today! We’re coming back today!” but God has not made that date clear yet. Together with them, we are asking God to speed up our timeline which has already felt so slow, but we also trust in God, together. We will not arrive in Costa Rica a minute sooner than He wants us there, even if we never know why. Until then, I’m leaning into my Abba to help me to be content to live here, to continue to minister to the community He has given us here, and to let Him bring the right people to minister to us in our time of need.
If it sounds like I’ve got everything figured out, that’s because I’m writing this on the back end of our home assignment. In this time stateside, I walked through some days in which I felt like I was turning into an introvert, between my physical struggles and my depression. There’s nothing wrong with introverts – I married an amazing one! – but the act of wanting to withdraw from everything is painful for me, especially because I really love and want to serve my family and community. There were some moments when I really doubted if God would ever use our family to serve Him the way we thought He had told us to – both here and in Costa Rica! Even this past week, I had my fleeting thoughts of “Am I really living out what you want for me, Abba?” But through it all, God continues to sustain me and to help me to stay the course, even when it’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m living in Isaiah and in the Psalms when I open the Word and He never fails to meet me where I need Him most. (And … I thank God, I’m STILL an extrovert, no matter what! Haha!)
This year, God has moved in me to listen to Him more intentionally. I find that when I do, I’m so much more at peace. The connection is not a coincidence! The word He gave me for this year was SILENT … which uses the same exact letters to form the word LISTEN. It is a call to my heart to seek Him in silence before the chaos of my own heart pushes past my ability to listen for His still, small voice.
What have been some highlights of this past home assignment?
There are so many highlights – it’s tough to choose. Life is “easier” here in the U.S. in terms of convenience and daily life processes. It’s been a helpful reprieve from the daily stressors of living in Latin America, in a Spanish-speaking context. Traveling to our partner churches and communities both refreshed me and drained me, but I wouldn’t give up those trips because they gave me a chance to connect with many amazing people on a heart level. It’s been fun to see God moving to provide for our daily needs, like a place to live or a car to drive, thanks to our generous community. I’ve also been so grateful for a chance to homeschool the kids in an active homeschooling community – it has made me feel less alone in that world! Oh, thanks to Groupon, I also loved surprising Jordan with an inexpensive helicopter tour of Chicago when were there for a family reunion, a funeral and to meet some potential partners! Our pilot “just so happened” to be from Littleton, CO! What an amazingly small world.
What has been challenging for you during this past home assignment?
The toughest things this past year have been
a) recovering from surgeries and procedures which led to good things, but were still hard, lonely processes and
b) realizing that our culture is truly busy on a very different level here.
It’s been a challenge to balance my waxing & waning energy level with connecting with others on a regular basis. Attending our mega-church has looked a lot different for us than it did in the 16 years before we left for the field, after growing accustomed to a very small church community in Costa Rica. Lastly, it’s been difficult to accept that, when some folks feel led to stop supporting us financially, it has led to them ceasing to be in our lives, but not for lack of us trying to keep them in our lives = ouch! On a positive note, this disappointment has taught Jordan and me that we are not bridge burners, but that we trust in God to provide for what we need in encouragement and friendship. Also, I stand amazed at how many have chosen to continue to partner with us in various ways and how a couple of supporters have increased their financial commitments because they believe so strongly in what God has called our family to do in the missions world. That must be the work of the Holy Spirit because during this Home Assignment, we have felt like losers and underachievers much of the time – and we’re not used to that!
What would you like our partners to pray for, for our family?
I would love to ask everyone to pray for the Lord to be pleased to get us to Costa Rica sooner, rather than later. We feel like we’re floating here, a little bit, and our home, our ministry team, our life is down there. In Costa Rica, things make sense, we fit. Here, we have to constantly explain why we’re here, what we’re doing “there” even though we are currently “here” and when we’re going back! It would be wonderful if every time we had to answer those questions, it would turn into increased support to return to the field, but that has not been the case so far. God knows!
Also, as Jordan and I disciple our kids, God has deepened our faith and our dependence upon Him for moment-by-moment guidance and wisdom from above. We have learned so much more about how desperately God must love us, even when we battle for control over our lives, while knowing that, ultimately, our best life is when HE is in control. We see this same battle and knowledge of truth taking root in our kids’ hearts through the joys and pains of obedience and disobedience, relinquishing and grappling for control. They are wonderful, amazing kids and we love them SO MUCH! We ask for prayer for how to wisely celebrate who they are every day and encourage their hearts towards God’s best for them, and to not settle into our culture’s perspective of “Well, that’s kids. What are ya gonna do?”
Last of all, please pray that we would all live moment-by-moment in the reality of this truth:
We have experienced this to be true so many times! May we resist not steps of faith and forfeit none of God’s intended blessings for us! I want to see Jesus lifted HIGH so that more of this broken world can look up, see Him and choose to glorify Him forever!
Please check out the interviews for the entire family: