Dear Family and Friends,
This past week, I had another honest conversation with God while I was doing dishes one afternoon. I looked out the window and asked God, "Lord, you knew there would be a flood this summer. You knew gas would be close to $4.00 a gallon, that food prices would significantly increase, that summer is the worst time to raise support, that our time to raise support is limited. I don't really understand your timing." Hours before, Dan and I decided to cancel four more support dinners. We are hearing, as we talk with people in Cedar Rapids, that many people have been impacted financially by the flood (whether it is their home or business or a loved one's home or business). A good many people are also involved with flood relief right now as well and their time is limited. We understand the urgency of this situation and respect the priorities that people are needing to make right now. However, this day I was struggling again just to understand what God was doing and how it is that He wants us to join Him in what He is doing.
After asking Him my questions and sharing with Him my doubts, I started to daydream as I looked out the window and my thoughts were directed to our move 6 years ago from Grand Rapids, MI to Cedar Rapids, IA. We were happy in MI and had no intentions of ever leaving. However, two weeks after we welcomed baby Will into our family, Dan was given notice that he and several hundred other employees would be losing their jobs within the year as a result of a bank merger. The year was 2001 and the economy in MI was struggling. This was another time in our lives when we were asking God about what He was doing. As we prayed and asked for direction, it became clear to us that we were at a crossroads and that God was directing us to leave Michigan and to pursue work in Iowa where my parents lived.
Two months before Dan's job would be eliminated; we had not yet sold our home and there seemed to be little interest in it; Dan did not yet have a job in Iowa (but had had several offers in MI which he did not take because we were certain God was calling us to move to Iowa); we were told on September 11 that Will would need to have surgery on the tube between his bladder and kidney in order to prevent permanent damage to his kidney; and our country was in crisis as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C. Three weeks before Dan's job was to be eliminated, he still did not have a job in Iowa but he had a possibility in Des Moines and one in Cedar Rapids. Our home had been sold at just the right time, allowing us to stay until we moved. Will's surgery was successful which meant the end of pokes and tests. Two weeks before our move to Iowa, the job in Des Moines offered Dan a position but after sleeping on it, he turned it down due to a concern about some business practices that he did not feel comfortable with. Days later, Aegon offered Dan a position. And the rest is history.
As I thought through the details of our move to Cedar Rapids, I recognized how similar our circumstances of 2001 are to those of 2008 - both include a major surgery in the midst of a move; a tragic crisis that impacted our community emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially; both include financial recession; both include a call to leave a home and job; and both include a short period of time for many important details to fall into place. I believe what God was saying to me that afternoon was, "Lisa, remember who I am and what I have done." Sounds like something He often said to those hard headed Israelites - huh? How many times exactly did He say to the Israelites, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." We hear God reminding the Israelites about who He is and what He has done throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, God uses people like Stephen to remind the people again of who He is and what He has done (Acts 7). Just as it is so easy to think we have it all together, it is also so easy to forget . . . just like those Israelites.
There are many reasons why I write these updates every week. One reason is to help our family to one day be able to remember who God is and what He has done. Life in Nicaragua will have it's challenges and there will be days when we will doubt His call. We will wonder, like the Israelites, if we just shouldn't turn right around and go back home where things are more familiar, more predictable. I've been journaling God's activity in my life for over 20 years now and can see how God has used this practice to strengthen my faith, especially when life was not making any sense. We share these updates publicly because your feedback confirms that we all live a similar story - our struggles and the ways we have come to know God in the midst of them are very similar even when the characters/the places/the events are different. It seems that sharing what God is doing in our lives helps others to remember who God is and what He has done in their lives - the same thing happens for us when you share your stories with us. Thank you for remembering who God is and what He has done along with us.
"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds" Psalm 77:11,12
1) My Dad is getting stronger. He starts cardiac rehab next week!
2) The kids and I have had opportunities to play with and love children who have lost their homes to the flood. Each of us were touched by this experience.
3) We are now officially appointed by New Covenant as one of their missionaries!
4) Our house has been up for sale for four days and we have had 7 showings so far, and I think 3 of them are second showings. We continue to pray for a quick sale!
1) On Monday and Tuesday, Dan and I plan to get our support letters sent out. Due to our disrupted schedule this week, we are finding it difficult to complete this task. Please pray for focus and uninterrupted time.
2) On Wednesday, we do have a dinner with at least 3 couples attending. Please pray that God would empower us to connect with our guests as we work to build our team of partners.
3) On Friday, we will leave for Grand Rapids, MI for two weeks. We will attend orientation with CRC World Missions the 9th through the 16th; speak at a supporting church on the 6th; and are hoping to connect with friends and family members while we are there. Please pray for safe travel and for our time there to be both productive and enjoyable.
4) Would you pray for our kids? I think that leaving our home is going to be difficult for them. They told me this week that they are "homesick" as a result of being out of our home so often for showings. We love our home and neighborhood and this will be a great loss for all of us.
Thanks again for your prayers! Please let us know how we can pray for you!
Peace to you,
Lisa for The Van Zoest's