Hello from Privada la Cabaña

It’s cloudy and rainy again this afternoon. These Campechanos don’t mind. Haling from the land of sand and perpetual sunshine, feeling cold and cozy is a treat. We always laugh when we see tourists in the south, happily burning themselves to a crisp, while we avoid Mr. Sun like the plague (or coronavirus as doubtless the next generation will use in their colloquial idioms). Vacation means a vacation from the heat! So there is no complaint, even from the peanut gallery, when the day turns grey.

That doesn’t mean that being here in Oaxaca has been something akin to living in a vacation home. It’s actually been a deep struggle for me.

We’ve had five kids. Each of them has come home from the hospital after birth to a different house. Felicity to “The House in Caracol”, Matthias to “The Apartment”, Damian to “The Red House” (despite it actually not being red… the yellow walls being lost in the glow of red patterned tile), Cyrus came home to “Quinta Querit” and little Galilea arrived to “The House in Magdalena”.

Four of those five were rented, QQ being the home we built in Emiliano Zapata. I’m going to be frank. It is pretty tough to rent again after having your own home. I loved getting to choose paint and tile. To fill our every day with beauty in our surroundings. It was therapeutic to wander around, fixing this and tweaking that. It was my very own piece of art.

But when God called me to leave home and family for the sake of the gospel some 12 years ago, He never promised nor planned for it to be a one-time job. It was never, “okay, Penelope, you can check the box on that one.” Leaving, going, forsaking for the grand cause of the gospel is a constant sacrifice, a lifelong commitment.

I’m homesick often. Not for the wonderful world of the USA, but for my little spot in the living room next to the patio doors, my basket overflowing with books and journals and pens, the orange weaver birds swinging on the purple flowering vine every morning. Of course, these sentiments must be compounded dramatically by pregnancy and postpartum bliss.

But see, there are no specialist surgeons there. And actually, right now, there’s not even electricity.

God knew back in January the infamous reputation 2020 was about to acquire. He knew little Galilea would be born with intestinal atresia. The pandemic came as no surprise. That a young man would crash into a pole and put out our already limited power supply for who knows how long (village life) was also in His mind. And so, instead of having us at home during this unusual year, He brought us here to Oaxaca.

I’ve never pretended to be some uber spiritual, super human with no real world struggles. It has always been my goal to be open and honest. Sometimes we have a jaded view of missionary life. It takes on a hue of romanticism and glory. We put evangelists in foreign countries on top of some arbitrary pedestal and often they quite enjoy that place, basking in the adulation of well-meaning christians. In fear of losing that respect, they then portray false or exaggerated images of themselves and the work that they are involved in. {I don’t make that statement lightly. More than once I have personally read news updates from this country that I simply know to be false, from claiming to have built a hall to someone’s profession of faith}

I won’t play that cyclical game. We’re here, following God’s hand, doing His work as we can…….and I am struggling.

I’ve had to confess it to God, to David and to others who have a special care for us. It doesn’t do to hide these things. I felt it growing and thriving and like a weed, knew it would soon choke out the loveliness of Christ to me.

That doesn’t mean my heart returned to total piety immediately. Daily, I must judge myself. Choose contentment. Erase the sighs of “if only”. Cease yearning for a home that is not Heaven. Remember. Remember Who brought you here. Remember why He did. Rest in His loving arms.

Meetings are slowly starting again. David is holding Bible Studies with each family who chooses to, separately for now. It has cheered me to know they have been longing for this day. It’s been a clear reminder of the deeper why. Nothing beautiful has ever been born or created without some sort of pain or sacrifice. Gospel work was never expected to be an exception.

How could we hope it to be when the very basis of our message is the Lamb of God, laid on the altar of Calvary, His death rising sweetly to the satisfied heart of God?

This post has run away on me. Words will do that, you know. I had intended this to just be a hello, we’re still alive update but I guess it wasn’t to be. I hope this will be an encouragement to you that we all struggle with where God has us at times. Sacrifice and vision are hard. Many, at times, are the afflictions of the righteous. But thank God, He delivers (not always how we want or expect!!) from them all!