Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter 2013 Newsletter

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Long-Awaited Answer to Prayer!

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27:14
Have you ever had to wait for something much longer than you ever expected? The Bible shows us that waiting for the Lord to answer our prayers, provide for our needs, and fulfill His promises not only is a part of life, but also teaches us to trust in Him, allow Him to mold our character, and rejoice in His perfect answers and timing.
The past few years, I have been waiting on a big item on my prayer request list: visiting the U.S. with Fernando. I initially thought it would be a fast and easy process, since he went to college in the States, has traveled to many places, and is (allow me to be biased) an upstanding individual any country would want to receive (could this not be more obvious?). :)
However, we found out the hard way (a visa denial) that people from this corner of the world who marry U.S. citizens are not usually granted visas to visit. Instead, the government assumes they must want to relocate to the U.S. and, as a result, must apply for a residency. In our case, we feel called to serve in Honduras, but we recognize the importance of Fernando being able to travel to the U.S. in order to do so.
Not only do we want to visit my family and friends, but we need to share with churches and individuals who God might call to join us in prayer and financial partnership. We still haven't attended our mission organization's orientation (and are thankful for their understanding and patience!). In addition, Fernando has been invited to participate in training events directly related to the projects we have been working on here, either in the U.S. or in locations most easily reached via the U.S. Clearly, we needed a long-term solution.
Over a year ago, we began the application process for U.S. residency (with the goal of obtaining naturalization in order to be in either country, as needed). It has been a long, tedious process that has entailed submitting countless documents, resubmitting problematic documents, Fernando taking numerous trips to Tegucigalpa, praying, waiting, and watching God answer each baby step on our prayer list... which led us to the decisive moment: Fernando's interview.
Armed with back-up documents (see below), we left for Tegucigalpa on Sunday and took our place in the line at the embassy at 6:00 A.M. yesterday. After the initial procedures, we sat waiting for Fernando to be called. We were confident we had prepared our part as well as possible, and we knew that God would provide the right answer, regardless of the final outcome. But the suspense was unbearable! I thought about how long we had waited and how much had been invested just to get to that moment, and it was nerve-wracking!
When Fernando's name was called, we were interviewed by a very kind woman. It all seemed natural, easy, and surreal, especially when she said she would approve the visa. What an incredibly short interview compared to all of the preparation! We were elated and relieved it was over.
These are some duplicate documents we have as a souvenir (!):

We are thankful for those who have helped us and prayed for us during this process, and we look forward to seeing many of you soon (more details to come)!

When we are waiting for God's direction, provision, and help, it can become difficult to keep trusting and believing in His power and perfect timing, especially when obstacles come up. I'm pretty sure I do not have it figured out yet, so I anticipate I will get to experience more "waiting" opportunities in the future. But, for now, we are celebrating a very satisfying answer to prayer!

"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks Him."
Lamentations 3:25
One final thought I've had during the past few years: I love the fact that Jesus paid my "application fee" and overcame the decisive "interview" for me to be accepted into His kingdom, and that this eternal destination with God's family is free for anyone who believes in Christ as Lord and Savior -- regardless of their nationality, background, or credentials. This is the good news we want everyone to hear and the visa we want everyone to receive!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blessings in Disguise

Hello everyone! Instead of a ministry update, I wanted to share with you how God has blessed me personally in unexpected ways in the past few weeks. I had a minor surgery last Friday, February 8. It went well, and I have been home recovering since last Saturday. (Email me if you want to know more details; I am perfectly fine and should be back to normal in another week or so!)

Some of you know how much I dislike medical procedures (anything involving needles or blood!) and how "resting" is not one of my favorite activities (!!). But I am thankful for this experience because of the ways God has taught me and blessed me:

I recently began attending a Bible study for English-speaking women who live in La Ceiba. Some are missionaries, and some are ex-pats; several are married to Hondurans. It has been fun and encouraging to start meeting with them. It turns out that several women decided to bring us meals in the first few days after the surgery! Not only was the food itself a blessing, but it was incredibly thoughtful for them to reach out to me so soon after meeting me. I am looking forward to seeing the group next week, and I am also excited to get to know them better and learn from them!

My friend J came over to give me some bread she made (I have not gone hungry!) and let me borrow some of her books. This was a good way for me to keep me lying down, and I have had a great time reading. Usually I read ministry-related or linguistics material, but it had been awhile since I'd read some good historical fiction.

Our pastor and his wife (one of my good Garifuna friends) came over the night before the surgery to pray with me. When I told other friends here about the surgery so they could pray, I sensed that God was using this experience to show me how people here care for me. Sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in activities and projects for others, and I can take for granted how those around me want to pray for me and encourage me, as well.

My "Nurse"
One of the best parts of the past week has been being spoiled by Fernando, who has been the best "nurse" I could ask for. :) In day-to-day life, it's easy to overlook the things I appreciate about him, such as how he makes me laugh, how he helps me relax (no small feat!), and how he is willing to do whatever he can to take care of me. This past week has given me a renewed sense of respect and gratitude for his self-sacrificial love for me.

I could mention more of God's good gifts from this past week:
  • How my mom makes me feel like she is right here with me even when though we're in different countries.
  • How people have emailed and called me.
  • How I have a better idea how to pray for those who deal with medical issues.
  • How God has used this time of rest to speak to me and refresh my spirit.

I enjoy pursuing goals and staying busy, but praise God for slowing me down and showing me His love in so many ways. He has reminded me that He is my Father, providing for me and ministering to me in unexpected ways.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." (Psalm 23:1-3)

Another post will be on its way soon! Biniladün Bungiu súngubei (God bless you all).