Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today is just another work day in Iquitos, Peru, but back home in the U.S. you all are celebrating Thanksgiving. It's that time of year again when we pause to count those things for which we are thankful - family, friends, jobs, children, grandchildren, church families - the things we deem 'good' in our lives. But when is the last time we thanked God for our troubles? I know, I know - you think I've lost my mind. Or have I? In my recent study of the book of James, I was greeted immediately with these words from the opening chapter:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing

of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work

so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. 

James 1:2-4

Are you kidding me? I'm supposed to be joyful in the hard times of my life? I should trust that something beneficial is being accomplished in my misery? If you're like me, you are 'thankful' to fast forward through those moments/days/seasons of life. Yet the reality of the Scriptures is that God not only allows difficulties to befall me, He goes a step further and works in those trying times to further mold me into the person He intends me to be. If trials are blessings, then the past couple of years have left me with my cup overflowing. I should be one of the most grateful people in the world; and I am. 

In January 2010, my husband and I took our first steps onto the path that would eventually take us to the altar. But before we said our "I Do's," we faced many months of criticism, judgment, and outright opposition to our relationship. My character, integrity, and entire Christian walk came under scrutiny. Gossip raged about me and my life became like a specimen in a lab with numerous 'scientists' jockeying for position around the microscope to take a look at me and perhaps even poke and prod me as well. While we were loved, encouraged, supported and defended by many in our respective families, in our church family, and among our friends, those who stood against us often did so in a very public, deeply hurtful way. It was a tribulation that would tear at the very core of our beings and test our faith like nothing else ever had. Collins bore the brunt of the attacks as he was on the front lines in the U.S., while I grieved and ached from a distance here in the jungle. We shared our individual and collective pain frequently with each other, and more than once wondered, out loud, why God was leading us in this direction when it was clearly filled with so much heartache. Innumerable prayers and days of poring through the Scriptures revealed to us that the accomplishing of His good and perfect will would not be pain free, nor should it be in light of the price that was paid for our salvation.

Now, nearly two years later, we are beginning to emerge from the desolation of the desert. Every day - 'poco a poco' as we say in Spanish - we realize just how blessed we have been by the trials we faced because they drove us straight into the outstretched arms of Jesus, both as a couple and as individuals. He became the only solace for our pain and we gained a most valuable insight - that we, one man and one woman, are ultimately unable to meet the most profound, soul-level needs of the other - only God can fill those voids, satisfy those yearnings, and bring peace in the midst of turmoil. As a result, on April 16, 2011, our marriage began firmly and completely rooted in God as our foundation. It is virtually impossible not to be grateful for this truth that we could not fully grasp were it not for ' our light and momentary troubles' (II Corinthians 4:17). I invite you to join Collins and me in counting all that we encounter in our lives as blessings - the good as well as the not-so-good.

And so I leave you on this Thanksgiving day with lyrics penned by my precious friend, Laura Story:

'Blessings' - by Laura Story

We pray for blessings; we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
But all the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness; we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while You hear each desperate plea
But long that we'd have faith to believe


When friends betray us; when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart that this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near
What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
And what if trials of this life: the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

***Laura Story, originally from Spartanburg, SC, is an up and coming artist on the Christian music scene. She won a Dove Award in 2008 for Inspirational Album and has since been nominated twice for Female Vocalist. You can find her music on iTunes and YouTube, or you may visit her website at***

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Picture It…If You Can

I would love to be able to supply you with photographic evidence of this, but Villa ran before I could stop laughing and get a steady enough hand to take the picture. But I think a mental image will do you just fine!

Today we have had a true 'rainy season' day. The morning consisted of intermittent showers interrupted by sunshine and extreme humidity. By around 1:30 p.m., though, the sky opened up and the torrential tropical downpour began. At first I was kicked back, enjoying the soothing effects of the rain - hanging with my pups and doing a little reading - when Villa returned from lunch. About the same time, the wind picked up and I decided I should probably make my rounds of the house to be sure none of the rooms were getting wet due to open windows. I shrieked and panicked as soon as I got to the room that serves as both the pharmacy and the Medical Missions office. I flashed back to my British Literature and caught myself quoting Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - 'water, water everywhere.' And there was water alright - LOTS of it - but the wind had nothing to do with it. It was raining down the inside of the exterior wall as well as through the ceiling rendering the accountant's computer thoroughly doused. 

While I was in the house trying to do technological damage control and get the computer out of the water, wiped down, and in front of a fan to dry out (I have no idea if the computer will ever work again - and given that I'm not fond of the mix of electricity and water it won't be me who tests it), Villa scaled the roof to discover that an overabundance of leaves had clogged the gutters and the pile up left the rain nowhere to go but through the roof, soaking the ceiling tiles, thus creating a one inch pool of water in both the office and an adjoining bedroom. Villa cleaned the roof off and I began alternately soaking and wringing the mop to get the standing water taken care of (this job was way too big for a few towels).

When all was said and done we were both sopping wet. Not a problem for me - I live here and so do my clothes; Villa, however, is not so fortunate. Having been on the roof during the worst of the downpour, he looked like he'd just emerged from the Amazon after a swim. I offered to throw his clothes in the dryer, but he said he didn't have anything else to wear, so he asked for a towel and headed to the pond house to wring out his clothes before he headed home. About 15 minutes later he appeared at the back door wearing only the towel, socks, and tennis shoes (he'd gone onto the roof barefooted so these were dry), and holding his clothes in his hands saying that after he showered the clothes were just too cold and wet to put back on, wanting to know if I would give them a spin in the dryer. I said of course I would, but first I needed to get my camera to take a picture of him and I exploded laughing. As I bolted for the camera, he dropped his clothes in the doorway and, holding the towel securely in place so as not to scar me for life, took off running for the pond house again. I tried to tail him, but afraid of falling again and actually getting hurt this time I couldn't keep up with him in my flip-flops on the slick concrete and he got away. I was laughing too hard to get anything other than a blur anyway. After that he hid and wouldn't come back; he yelled from a distance, somewhere out of sight, for me to leave his dry clothes sitting on top of the dryer and he would come get them and put them on. Ordering me to go back in the house, to close the door, and to stay away from the windows he said, and I quote, "I don't trust you with that camera because you will send the picture to everybody in the U.S. and they will laugh at me." What can I say? He's got me pegged.

Did I mention that I absolutely love this life here?

Recommended Reading

  • The Bible
  • Serving with Eyes Wide Open - Doing Short Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence - David A. Livermore
  • Cross-Cultural Servanthood - Serving the World in Christlike Humility - Duane Elmer
  • Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It) - Robert D. Lupton
  • When Helping Hurts-Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself - Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  • Shadow of the Almighty - Elizabeth Elliot
  • Messy Spirituality - Michael Yaconelli
  • The Irresistible Revolution - Shane Claiborne
  • Peace Child - Don Richardson
  • If God Should Choose - Kristen Stagg
  • In the Presence of My Enemies - Gracia Burnham
  • Inside Afghanistan - John Weaver
  • Same Kind of Different as Me - Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  • Through Gates of Splendor - Elizabeth Elliot
  • End of the Spear - Steve Saint